Millenials Restore Degrading Faith


As an older gentleman on campus, it’s easy to slide into accepting the standard-issue stereotypes of millennials— the bulk of Auraria Campus student—as a whiny, self-absorbed lot with outsized senses of entitlement who relate better to smart phones than to other people. Sometimes, though, it’s nothing more than an assumption.

Some evidence of the former always exists. But if stereotypes can be based on some sliver of fact, they misfire when applied to a broader picture.

I was literally jolted into that awareness recently on campus. Walking toward the Tivoli’s northeast entrance, I tripped on a low step and, despite efforts to stop the fall, fell flat on my face. The fall and scrape left a bloodied left cheek and forehead. It was also a do-it-yourself job. None of the students that I jeer at for ambling across campus in a cell phone coma had gotten in my way and I’d accomplished the flop entirely unaided.

However aid came instantaneously. As I started to get up, I was immediately surrounded by more than a half-dozen students. They were all millennials, a demographic I’d been known to sneer at. They were all strangers, and more than polite, more than helpful.

“You okay, sir?” “Let me help you up.” “You’re bleeding.” One student went so far as to produce a cup of water.

While “Sir” is an honorific I link to 90-year-olds who vote Republican—I still have a few years to go before reaching that state of grace, if not party preference—the respect was appreciated.

A young woman named Madison in a #58 Broncos’ jersey checked my scraped cheek and eyebrow, with a perhaps practiced eye. “It doesn’t look stitch-worthy,” she said. “But, we’d better get you over to the medical center. I’ll go with you.”

Here was a student who didn’t know me, and who, on my behalf, was going to be late for class. Unbelievable. It was remarkable.

Walking to the medical office, we chatted. Madison, it turned out, is an Environmental Science major in addition to being a caring soul. She remained nearby until a young, also kind, medical assistant named Mitch checked me out and bandaged my face. No real harm done, although— sporting a budding black eye—I looked as though I’d just lost a fight.

“If anybody asks, tell them, ‘you should see the other guy,’” he said.

Two days later, in the Tivoli food court, someone called my name. It was Madison again. “Your face looks a lot better,” she said. Thanks again, Madison, along with all the other millennials who helped a stranger.

It so far hadn’t been a great day. But, feeling oddly euphoric, I recalled the title of a 45-year-old tune by The Who, whom few millennials could be expected to remember: “The Kids Are Alright.”

—J. Sebastian Sinisi

illustration: Madalyn Drewno • CU Denver Sentry

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