Op-Ed: Suppressing conservative voices is dangerous, damaging to F&M’s educative atmosphere

By Joe Yamulla || Opinion & Editorial Editor

Recently, it’s come to my attention that the true liberal arts foundation of Franklin & Marshall has lost some of its value. That foundation, of course, is an environment with an open dialogue, free flowing ideas, and diverse opinions.

After spending time speaking with a number of conservative students on this campus, I’ve realized that many feel their voices have been silenced, ignored, and even attacked at Franklin & Marshall.

I’ve been a student here for almost three years now, and never quite understood this sentiment just because my beliefs fall within the favored liberal values on campus. However, I feel that this is an issue we have to take seriously as students, faculty, and administration. If we aren’t listening to all sides, even the ones we don’t want to hear, we don’t have dialogue or a truly educative community. That gives us a mere monologue which ostracizes and discourages those with dissenting opinions.

I’ve been wanting this editorial to be written for a few weeks now. However, those who I’ve reached out to about writing, were fearful that they would be attacked for their conservative voice. This alone, at the very least, shows there is some fundamental flaw in the way we do things, the way we think. Further comments that followed after turning down the opportunity to write were that he “felt would be labeled a sexist if he shared that he is pro-life due to religious reasons” or that he “would be regarded as a racist and a bigot because he voted for Donald Trump in the past election.”

Don’t get me wrong, Donald Trump has some major issues and I did not vote for him. However, there are major complexities in regards to how people think and how they vote. Furthermore, we have the liberty of choice each election. Regardless of how strongly we disagree with someone’s decision, no one has the right to verbally attack, look down upon, nor label someone who decided to vote for Donald Trump.

There is a difference between having a fundamentally different opinion than someone, and attacking them for exercising their own specific democratic duty.

Judgment is the Achilles heel to a liberal arts college. Conservative students, even if they have the “unpopular opinion” that you don’t want to hear, have the right to feel comfortable on campus.

Suppressing “opposing” voices or simply not listening to them is incredibly dangerous. Students have the right to share their views without being called names or labeled as something they’re not. Every single individual here is extremely complex and unique. Where we come from, how we were raised, what we were taught, and our familial circumstances are just some of the many determining factors that affect our political views. If we want Franklin & Marshall to truly be a liberal arts college, we have to promote dialogue, not monologue. This starts (even though it may be difficult for some) with listening to dissenting opinions, learning about them, and trying to understand why they were made.

Let’s listen, not attack. No student should feel self-conscious of his or her views, even if they oppose the popular opinion and belief here on campus.

Junior Joe Yamulla is the Opinion & Editorial Editor. His email is jyamulla@fandm.edu.

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