This year, I have had the honor of being your Opinion editor, a role that is now coming to an end as you hold in your hands the last edition of the paper for this the year.
When I began the year, I decided that I wanted this page to really mean something. I wanted this page to challenge beliefs, introduce new ideas, and start a conversation. I believed that the best way to do this was to choose a topic every week that people cared about and then get two people to write the pro and con of that topic. Over this year, we have gotten to hear from students about so many important topics: feminism, race, policing, education. We have gotten to hear what students think on both sides of those issues.
The reactions haven’t always been positive. After one particularly controversial topic, I saw people tearing up the paper side of the issue with which they didn’t agree. After another, I received negative feedback from teachers about particular views that a student held. There will probably even be people who read this article and disagree with my ideas or opinions. That is completely fine. The page never sought to change anyone’s morality or ideology, just to expose them to the other side of arguments.
Whether I personally agreed with the opinion or not, I firmly believe that every opinion that was published this year deserved to be shared. Every opinion that you have sent to me, I have read and evaluated for its relevance to the school. Nothing was ever rejected because it was too controversial or too unpopular. If it represented how a student at our school felt about an issue, then it deserved to be heard.
We live in a world in which colleges are increasingly being restricted when it comes to freedom of speech. Just a few days ago CNN noted that “critics say there is a growing intolerance for the exchange of ideas at American colleges and universities.” Those who do not agree with this exchange of ideas have too often resorted to violence or threats in order to silence those with opposing views. When political scientist Charles Murray, whom The Southern Poverty Law Center considers to be white nationalist, recently spoke at Middlebury College, protesters got so out of control that a professor accompanying him was injured, even though the professor had no ties to the speaker.
This is a problem on college campuses because college should be a time to experience new ideas. College should be a time to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Free speech is a fundamental right in that it influences all other rights. No change can occur in a society that does not allow us to speak up and let our opinions be heard. When we stop talking about important things, we lose our civility and our freedom and allow ourselves to become insulated in our own stereotypes and misunderstandings
We are fortunate enough to attend a school that not only allows us total control over our publications but also has students that are open minded and willing to listen to the opinions of others. I want to thank everyone who sent me a submission this year and helped spread the free exchange of ideas on this campus. Our school is often criticized for the “Loma Bubble,” or in other words, for living in an echo chamber of our own ideas. However, doing something like submitting your opinion is what makes the bubble burst. When you submit an opinion that you feel may be unpopular, you challenge beliefs and ideas that may never have been challenged before. Your words are important.
If you are attending PLNU next year, I encourage you to submit something to the section. It doesn’t matter if you are a writing major or if you are an expert on any particular topic. You are a student on this campus and your opinion deserved to be heard.