Letter to the editor: Pointing blame at young adults’ decisions just obfuscates the larger issues at hand


I wanted to reply to Chronicle columnist John McCroskey’s opinion piece about college students published last week.

It is easy to scapegoat someone who gets a “soft skills” degree. However, I think John would agree that his past position as a sheriff is just as important as a computer programmer, and each requires a different set of skills.

If we all didn’t have different skills and interests, Lewis County would be full of doctors and financial advisers, and we’d all be rich.

I agree that there are many different options for high school graduates, including community college, tech programs and trades apprenticeships. It is our responsibility to share those opportunities and teach teenagers how to compare the benefits and drawbacks of each. However, no training is a guarantee of a job. The tech sector’s recent contraction is a prime example of this.

While a four-year degree is not as valuable as it was preached to be from my elders, there are still some benefits to a liberal education. My degree broadened my understanding of economics, U.S. and world political systems, and common business practices.

Taking an entire class on world history and Islam, for example, gave me valuable insights that I would not have gained otherwise. With this understanding comes the ability to question decisions that adversely affect us.

It’s disappointing then, that John paints a sensationalist view of the college protests over the last few weeks. The protests by college students have been largely peaceful, with cherry-picked examples of students and other protesters turning violent.

What I find more concerning is the use of militarized force by police on unarmed students to suppress their right to speak against the government’s policies.

It’s a weird twist to hear those who espoused personal liberties for many years here in Lewis County turn to supporting the state’s use of force to silence dissent against the Israeli government.

John thinks the government will protect these protesters in the future, but I see the opposite, where those who disagree with policy decisions are imprisoned or silenced. History more directly points toward my concern than John’s, and is a far more dangerous outcome.

As a millennial (and for those younger than me), we are not as protected from the poor decisions made by the people before us. We watched 9/11 lead us into funding a military industrial complex that takes almost half our nation’s discretionary budget and violates our personal privacy rights for so-called security. The ultra rich receive tax cuts, mega corporations raise prices and make earnings records while I watch our community struggle to buy necessities. Cities pass prohibitive housing ordinances and strangle development, raising rents and home prices.

You could afford a house and kids on a service industry salary in the 90s, but now graduates with full-time jobs are forced to live with their parents.

It’s obvious to me why people are upset, and rightfully so. Pointing the blame at young adults’ decisions just obfuscates the larger issues at hand.


Phillip Wiltzius