From the Editor: Hard conversations should be part of learning process

Throughout our lives, we have heard the saying “Play it safe” and have had our health teachers warn us about a graphic scene coming up in educational films. When we were younger, teachers were seen as guides in the absence of parents to make sure that children were not being fed information their parents would not give them. 

This narrative has coddled the minds and perspectives of young adults, even in more mature settings such as college lectures. 

Because our generation seems to be so involved in controversial issues and social movements, which are prevalent on social media, this has affected the way we act in class; we are biased toward our own opinions. Learning about both sides of a story only helps us build our knowledge, and young adults should seize this opportunity. Scrubbing campuses clean of uncomfortable topics, conversations and debates is no way to improve learning. 

Former President Barack Obama responded to the idea of cutting funds to colleges with political biases by saying this “runs contrary to everything we believe about education,” adding that students entering college should not have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.

College is a learning course with a dose of reality. Students are able to construct their own perspectives of the world as well as come in contact with other students whose ideals and beliefs may be completely different. In reality, everyone is from varied origins, backgrounds and experiences and have a contrasting outlook on the world. 

According to a Rider News poll, 71 percent of the 38 voters believe that American students are too sensitive to certain matters discussed in class. 

Students tend to be sheltered when discussing controversial topics, like politics, but they should have the right to express their opinions or troubles toward any situation. Students choosing to speak out and express their concerns is not new. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, many college campuses held rallies and demonstrations all over the country about the war in Vietnam, racism and other social issues. College students should be capable of withstanding an opinion from a peer and be able to conduct themselves civilly when engaged in a debate. 

They should get comfortable with opposing views, not to sympathize with the opposition but to strengthen their own stances. This hostility should not affect their views; it should drive them. It should only make your rebuttal stronger, not force you into a safe space. 

College students are trained to go into the real world and face whatever comes at them — the harsh and the beautiful. Will a professor disclaiming that a topic talked about in class has to do with sexual assault or drug abuse help or hinder students from reality?

Social media has made a huge impact on how many people react to statements they do not agree with. A Facebook rant about a political view can get thousands of shares and also major backlash. This is affecting how sensitive students may be in the classroom and may hinder them from starting an intellectual debate. College is all about challenging ourselves and ensuring that we are educated on even the hardest of subjects. This can’t happen if we are too afraid to bring up cultural and social questions in class that may offend someone else. 

People are simply kidding themselves if they do not recognize sexism, racism or ageism in today’s society. Stereotyping based on disability, sexual orientation or religion is prevalent. “Protecting” students from this reality is only hurting them in the long run. Living in denial is no way to mature beyond college. From listening, we are able to form our own opinions, grow and educate ourselves more. Hiding from awkward or touchy subject matters is hurting our knowledge rather than nurturing it. 

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Hayley Fahey, and staff writer Qur’an Hansford.

Printed in the 4/18/18 issue. 

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