What’s the solution? It is my personal belief that students should have no fear in expressing their thoughts and ideas. Students should not be playing devil’s advocate because they fear expressing their personal views. Ideas, thoughts, and speech should be listened to and confronted so that the good ones will be accepted by society and the bad ones will be thrown away. When you attempt to censor speech, you do not get rid of the ideas, you simply drive them underground.
In the email, I urged our members to continue to speak their minds. The Denison mission statement is for us to become autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents and active citizens of a democratic society. How do you accomplish that? By having your views, thoughts, and ideas challenged in the classroom. Every single day I have my views challenged and I absolutely love it. It helps me reconsider different issues and topics and either changes or strengthens my views. Tucker and Omari’s debate is not a model of what these discussions should look like. Tucker interrupted Omari multiple times and even insulted him, saying he can’t create an original thought. Students must be active listeners in order to see the rationale behind an idea. And they must also exert respect. I will never criticize someone for arriving at a different conclusion from me if I think he or she has done so by rational means and good intent.
The issue I see at Denison is not enough of us are willing to get out of our comfort zones. On both sides, I see students unwilling to participate in civil discussions. Jack Kemp said, “The purpose of politics is not to defeat your opponent as much as it is to provide superior leadership and better ideas than the opposition.” I urge students to discuss with an open mind, for a failure to do so not only stunts your growth as a student, but as a member of society.