I’m a proud liberal. I was raised in an intellectual household by two politically active parents who taught me to stand up for those less fortunate than me, those who are bullied and oppressed, and to fight for the rights of all humans.
What happened at Yale University and the University of Missouri this week frightens me. I watched the videos. I saw an assistant professor, a woman whose job it is to teach and stand up for the rights of all students, harass and threaten a student photographer for taking pictures on public property because he was encroaching on a “safe space.” I saw students lose their minds that a professor would encourage the exchange of varying ideas because they feel “threatened.” I saw people standing up for what they mistakenly believe is their right to stamp out voices they don’t agree with.
But the most disheartening thing I saw was a young Yale student screaming the words, “(College) is not about creating an intellectual space … It’s about creating a home here.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I chose to spend tens of thousands of dollars to go to school so that I could surround myself with ideas and philosophies and to learn. If I wanted a “home” or a “safe space” that shelters me from things that might offend me, I could have just stayed home with my parents. We must ask ourselves: is this the mentality that will inherit the world? It’s one I want no part of, and it’s one that scares me.
What about an idea makes a person feel “unsafe,” anyway? There’s no threat of physical violence from an idea, certainly. The way I see it, what it comes down to is basically students saying, “I don’t like that people are allowed to disagree with me. Change it or I will leave the college.” If that’s the case for you, maybe you should leave. Education is too important to bend to your every need.
I hope you don’t leave. I hope you find the strength to hear other people say things that you may not like. I hope you learn that disagreeing is not the same thing as not listening. I hope you learn to learn.
I’m a proud liberal. This is not the liberalism I know.
Michael Shapiro, LSA sophomore