In Social Movements today we discussed social movements on campuses and free speech. Two interesting conversations happened:
- A few weeks ago a campus-wide protest against the university president happened, because of a decision he was about to make regarding the football team, rendering them virtually useless by requiring them to offer no scholarships to potential recruits. At the men’s basketball game that night, someone came into the arena with a “Fly the Coop, Cooper” sign, referencing the president–Pres. Cooper. He was thrown out of the arena because he had a sign that was derogatory towards someone not even involved in the game, which violated Athletic Dept. policy. E-mail apologies were sent to the entire campus; mention was made in the local newspaper. People in class today had a problem with this, but i don’t get it, for this reason: we are a private institution, therefore the campus is private property; rules are rules, and the school is governed by the conference and the NCAA. Hence, this wasn’t so much about “free speech,” rather it had to do with a precedent creating an uplifting game-day atmosphere.
- A discussion started about colleges and universities being home to a movement towards liberalism and suppression of moderate or conservative views in any way. Unfortunately, I have seen that even here. Resident Assistants reprimanded for posting pro-Republican slogans on their door; hiring of a Christian chaplain to represent the majority Christian population on campus when in actuality she represents very little of the Christian community; and the list could go on, both here and at other places. I don’t see the problem as one of conservativism vs. liberalism; rather, the issue is one that has plagued some Protestant Christian seminaries, most conservative Christian colleges and universities and many non-religiously-affiliated colleges and universities: an agenda has been raised which is proclaimed in the classroom as the ultimate truth and considered the rule and law to live by.
My problem arises with this because I feel rather than being brainwashed or bombarded, this generation would be better served to all be taught the exact same thing, whether conservative, moderate or liberal: learning how to learn. If the generation were to be taught how to learn, each would take the information presented and form their own view of the issue. Perhaps it is my Baptist upbringing which brings this out most in my own life. One of the pillars of faith as a Baptist, also one that many seem to have forgotten in shaping the new Southern Baptist Convention, is the “priesthood of all believers” where each person is able to communicate directly to God and does not have to be held accountable to any other person.
The past few years as I started looking into seminaries, I have noticed that many seem to teach and preach with an agenda. I have quickly crossed each one of those institutions off my list. A few months ago I met a pastor from Texas who told me about the seminary he attended. His favorite aspect of the seminary was that he learned how to learn, was given material to learn from and was not spoon-fed his education. I’m looking forward to that.
As this university continues to examine where it’s heading in terms of liberalist vs. conservativist agendas, I hope the committees and Board will recognize that an emphasis should be placed on allowing people to learn how to learn, not spoon-feeding. Those days are behind (most of) us and it’s time for us to shape our own worldview. Presenting an unbiased approach towards learning will lessen the divide, I feel, between each side. If a conservative is attempting to force his/her agenda, sides with either strongly agree or be adamantly opposed. Same for a liberal and his/her agenda. If each student is allowed to make his/her own decision based on their experiences, readings and lifestyle, they will experience an eb and flow of education as they read material they agree with, disagree with and lessens the impact of harsh disagreements between the liberal, moderate and conservative.