A few weeks ago, I withdrew from a class because I believed that the professor’s lectures were very one-sided and that he/she attempted to stifle those students who contradicted him/her. I found this very disturbing, especially since the fear of receiving low grades made some students hesitant to speak in opposition to the professor. I personally felt like my comments were avoided or brushed off because I tended to disagree with the professor’s position. I wanted to determine if there were other people who had had the same experience, because if there were, I would know this was a serious problem meriting official action. I used various methods to locate others who had similar feelings about this professor, including putting up posters. I left them anonymous since I did not want to make a public accusation before collecting more information, but I planned to reveal my identity and openly explain the situation later, through a letter to the Lawrentian. However, the Lawrentian declined to print my editorial because the professor would not be able to respond to my accusations in print. But in the same issue, another letter appeared discrediting my posters because they were anonymous and suggesting that I use the Lawrentian as a more credible public forum! How ironic.
By far, the most interesting part of this affair has been the response to my posters. I would never have guessed that posters simply asking if students felt like their opinions had been suppressed would be considered “inflammatory.” While I heard from a number of people who had experienced incidents similar to my own, I also received e-mails, the content of which ranged from condescension to anger to a threat on my life. I believe that much of this correspondence led to productive dialogue, but considering the fact that these people did not know what the true situation was, it seemed to me like they were very quick to jump to conclusions and judge me. Is this the tolerance and open-mindedness that Lawrence is so proud of? If so, I can’t imagine what intolerance and close-mindedness would be like.