We’re coming back to school this fall during a time of great political divide. Let’s work to give everyone we meet here a voice, even if we don’t agree with them.
It’s easy for political discussions to turn nasty or backfire on those who have expressed an opinion. It’s important that all students feel safe to express their beliefs without fear of backlash.
It’s equally important that we don’t avoid political discussions. Instead, let’s learn from each other’s diverse values. Healthy debates and friendly banter can help us strengthen our stances on hot-button issues and challenge our beliefs in such a way that we grow from them.
Getting out of our comfort zones and being willing to have conversations with those who have opposite political beliefs is a great way to further our education about controversial topics and test our biases to see if they are founded in fact or fiction.
If we don’t take the time to hear each other, voices will be quelled and lost amid the fray. Some groups will be overlooked—groups that could have valuable input that they never get to share whether because of fear or outright discrimination.
Hateful, slanderous speech, inappropriate graffiti and defacement of the images of political figures on posters and elsewhere on campus can lead some students to feel they can’t openly express their opinions.
It’s especially easy for those who have the minority view on a subject to feel oppressed and forcefully silenced if we don’t consider how our words and our actions affect them.
So this semester, let’s make it a rule to be respectful and open to one another, no matter what our differences are in word or appearance. We should make an effort to sharpen one another’s intellects and help everyone’s voices be heard, whether we agree with them or not.
If we do this, we can grow together and become more well-rounded individuals who are sure of their positions and can defend them with honor and dignity.