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Diversity of Thought: How To Truly Promote Civil Discourse

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Written by Shanice Arlow

The other day I was looking for a song on Youtube when an ad popped up. I usually skip them as soon as it allows me to, but, in this instance, I sat through it. The ad was about college campuses being diverse in terms of skin color and sexual preference, but not in thought. The presenter, Charlie Kirk, stated that the type of diversity implemented on college campuses creates more segregation than it does unity. I disagree with this statement. The segregation Kirk may be thinking of is due to some people not wanting to learn about others and wanting to stick to historical methods of imposing one’s opinions on others without consequences.

The concept of diversity of thought is one that I have been hearing for a while now and it popped up again, as I was searching for “El Amante,” by Nicky Jam.

Understand this, I think that diversity of thought should absolutely be supported by students, faculty, and staff in this institution. That is the only way we, as young adults, will learn to become integral parts of society. As a woman of color, who knows about having your voice choked off at the jugular, being able to voice my opinions is a luxury, and one that I am rarely allowed to enjoy. Thus, I fully advocate for everyone’s voices to be heard. However, the issue of diversity of thought comes when those advocating for it do so expecting that their different views will not be challenged. Professor Brittany Cooper wrote that “dominant groups want to engage in harmful discourse without accepting that hurtful speech…can have actual victims.” Here lies the problem. We cannot expect to say our bit without facing any consequences. We cannot expect that others will not hold us accountable when our right to free speech means encroaching on the safety of others when it means spewing hatred and ignorant rhetoric.

Therefore, should you practice and express your First Amendment right to free speech, think about how that may have consequences. Know that people may or may not agree with you, and don’t cower away when they do. Instead, take that opportunity to have respectful dialogue-not only to get your point across, but to learn from other people. That is what a liberal arts institution should stand for. When practicing that same speech, we should all check our privilege and think about how our opinion may come across to those who aren’t in the dominant group. If me asking that you check your privilege somehow irks you, then you don’t advocate for diversity of thought. Rather, you advocate for escaping responsibility and accountability when your view is challenged. That should not be tolerated on college campuses because then all liberal arts college will stand for is pitting groups against one another, which is in direct opposition to the creation of unity.

About the author

Shanice Arlow