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OPINION: Standing Up for Yourself

Many young adults don’t realize how many people can take advantage of inexperience and a submissive attitude. Teachers, roommates, the Financial Aid Office and even family can make a normal day stressful by intentionally or unintentionally invoking their power over a student’s life. Many young adults find that freedom comes with lots of responsibility, part of which is knowing when to stand up for themselves. There is no guidebook for when and where adversity will strike but it is important to be prepared when it does. For some students, those moments can come when they try moving off campus. There are landlords known for increasing prices for students and taking advantage of first-time renters. Such is the case for junior Jane Werner. She worries about facing unfair price increases by her landlord but rather than simply waiting for something to happen, she’s taken the situation into her own hands. Werner has planned for when she moves out by photographing the house in order to prove she’ll be leaving it in the same condition she rented it. With more than 70 percent of Western students living off campus, knowing renter’s rights and when to voice concerns are incredibly important. On Western’s Off Campus Living section of its website, student renters are advised to be aware of the kind of lease being signed, ensuring the space is in livable condition upon move in and other considerations when living on their own. But renting isn’t the only avenue where students should be prepared to stand up for themselves. There are also more personal situations when students can be taken advantage of and made to feel badly about themselves. Take relationships for example. Senior Sam Klootywyk was in a relationship for months when his girlfriend broke up with him over text. He decided he was worth more than that and confronted her. He walked away from the relationship with a sense of peace he wouldn’t have had it he didn’t reach out to his ex. Communication is a vital in such situations. If students feel they are worth more than a text, they shouldn’t be afraid to confront the other person and look for an explanation, Klootwyk said. There’s a lot of pressure for students to find a place where they feel they can belong on campus. Whether that’s in a relationship, a club or some other outlet. But there are opportunities everywhere to make good, healthy connections where no one is being taken advantage of. Students shouldn’t let their voices or self esteem waver in the face of adversity. Instead, they should let them grow stronger and propel them into a better future.

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