Youthful Conservatism: Superficial Diversity at Phillips Exeter
- by Francisco Unger
At the age of 15, I am privileged to attend Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the nation's oldest and most historic high schools. When I first arrived on campus earlier this year, I looked forward to a community that would be more diverse and representative than the affluent private school that I attended in Boston, MA. As Exeter's brochures read, this was a high school with students from all four corners of the earth. During my first days of school, this promised diversity seemed to read true: my dormitory alone housed students from China, Korea, Saudi Arabia, England, and Guatemala.
However, over the course of my first semester, this superficial diversity would crumble.
I would find that, although the global youth at Exeter stemmed from far reaching lands, their fundamental outlooks on the world carried little difference from one another. Throughout the campus, the majority of the student body is chained together by a conservative viewpoint: a viewpoint that tolerates the world's mess of a social structure, turns the other cheek at the failures of capitalism, and dictates that change is dangerous.
When filmmaker Michael Wadleigh, invited to speak at assembly, contrasted the urgent needs of starving children in Africa to the lavish spending of wasteful children in America, the student body erupted with outrage; passing off Wadleigh's speech as a personal attack, when in fact, an open-minded individual would recognize its validity.
When former socialist vice-presidential candidate Eric Chester spoke at assembly, he was met with a similar, if not more direct, reaction. Near the end of his speech, an outline of what socialism stands for and why it can and must be achieved (for in fact, even the most educated of American youth lack knowledge in such an area) Chester was faced with a student who questioned in a vicious and inflammatory manner, "If you hate America so much, why don't you just leave!"
As I found at Exeter, close-minded sentiments like these are becoming more widespread and more accepted among youth throughout America. The current generation, brainwashed with popular belief, lean towards conservatism, for they are shielded from its tragedy.
Having confronted this mass of conservatism, and having realized its spread - it afflicted these students who, indeed, represented all corners of the globe- I was filled with dismay. It was in this moment that I, at the age of 15, transformed into a radical. I am a radical because I am fueled by the belief that the current state of the world is far from where it should be, and that only with massive change can it progress into a world built on the foundations of a more libertarian, inclusive, and charitable spirit. I am a radical because the average CEO makes 419 times the wage of his employee, because our democracy is a wolf in sheep's clothing, because millions of African children starve while obesity rates rise in America, because the daily deaths of thousands of children can be prevented, because there is in fact enough wealth to go around.
I am a radical because only with massive change can the eyes of the students at Exeter be lit up, and freed from the dark which now rests over them.
Francisco Unger, 15, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.