They say educational institutions and universities are places where people can feel free to express themselves in order to create an environment where we can collectively grow and learn to form a better society. However, can students and faculty honestly say that this is the case? Do they feel safe enough and welcomed to express their opinion, regardless of which side they might fall on?
In my experience, and from what I have witnessed others experience over the years in college, I would say this is most certainly not the case. Whether it’s having your opinion mocked by the professor or having a hostile classroom environment where you know you aren’t welcome, I think it is safe to say that universities and colleges alike are predominantly liberal in regard to political views and opinions -which I think most would agree on. Furthermore, there is an air of bias or alienation to anything or anyone who might have differing views to the majority which creates a form of cancel culture.
This is an issue because it silences the voices of students who might have questions regarding politics or simply want to contribute their opinions to their educational community. When an environment is created where students feel that what they believe or have to say isn’t valued and is a risk to their university experience, student image, or grades, it is bound to create animosity. In addition to this, not only will students develop disdain for the university and their overall experience, but as I have witnessed, it can also lead to them being untrue to what they believe with their school work, whether it be acting as if they have certain beliefs, or writing papers with an opinion they don’t actually hold, in order to appease the class and their professor. This raises a similar question once again, are these students and their grades better off pretending to be what they are not in order to get by in their time at the university? We all know what an immense force bias and peer pressure can be.
Having said these things, I would like to promote the idea of creating an environment where people can come to learn, better themselves, and have an open and fair discourse on matters from politics, religion, or education etc. I believe it’s one of the best ways we, as a society, can eliminate the hard left or right political views we see young people falling into today, where individuals adopt the views of friends and family without doing any research themselves. However, if we wish to create free thinking individuals who don’t simply fall in line to the dominating voice that tells them what to think, we have to make sure that we are not creating or enabling that dominating voice within our university community. We should practice what we preach at CSUSB and treat our fellow students, faculty, and Coyote family with respect and attention.
Lastly, this is not an attack on the university, nor those it employs, but more of an eye opener on a very real issue. I understand that all are entitled to their beliefs and opinions, but regardless of what they are, they must not be forced upon students nor faculty. There are individuals on our campus who chastise and belittle those who do not agree politically, which goes against so much the university is trying to accomplish.
If we truly wish to change someone’s opinion, surely it isn’t through stifling what they have to say but instead through hearing them out and providing a different viewpoint and information which would be valid enough to sway their opinion.
So, I challenge you, whether you are a student or professor: next time you’re in class, ask those around you or your students how they feel regarding this issue and see what they say.