A Plea for Controversial Opinions

It is coming to the end of my time as Opinions and Editorials editor and I am very proud to have been curating and preparing these pages for the past few terms. While I could spend this column talking about what I like about my section, I think it is a better usage of this space to make a request of you, my readership.

The Opinions and Editorials section is an intellectual campus space and a campus resource. These pages are supposed to hold the strong and sometimes controversial opinions of community members. I think there are many campus debates and issues that remain unrepresented in my section despite interest and controversy. While many on our campus have complicated and interesting ideas about the issues that influence their lives, very few are willing to write a short piece (a minimum of 550 words) that explicates their view and puts their thoughts on record.

I think it would be a huge cultural benefit for campus if community members made their ideas and opinions explicit. This free exchange of ideas would create an environment where we taught each other about the issues that impact out campus.

It isn’t that there are not important campus and political issues being debated and worked out at Lawrence, it just seems that people are more inclined to snipe at each other for beliefs we think others have as opposed to engage in substantive debate. We can never have constructive solutions if we don’t have problems that are immediately visible and understandable. It is imperative for the health of our intellectual community that individuals holding unpopular beliefs express those beliefs in a rhetorical way in order to sway the positions of some and temper the positions of those that cannot be convinced.

There are some positions that are expressed, held or felt by a majority of the Lawrence campus and these are repeated over and over again because their ubiquity makes them socially acceptable. While it can be scary to express ideas we know others don’t agree with, Lawrence is supposed to be one of the most rigorous institutions of higher education in the country. If we truly value rigor then we must also value the exchange of disparate and contradictory ideas.

There will never be a time in your life that it is as easy as it is now to write an article that will be published in print and online. As college students, you are uniquely positioned to write about anything you want, regardless of expertise, and have it published.

In my last few issues at editor, I hope that community members will take advantage of this page. I encourage you to write the unpopular thing that you feel must be said. I encourage you to write what you believe people at Lawrence have to hear. If we all take some responsibility for the health of the intellectual space we are a part of, we can all work together to improve it. You are the only person in the world with your unique lived experience. Only you can write the exact piece you would write; only you can say what you believe and why. I hope some of you will take a bold step and express yourself. Malcolm X said that “A man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything.” If you see a problem say something; we can’t just pretend these problems don’t exist because being complacent is not a solution.

 

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