I am writing today because the atmosphere at Goucher has, for the duration of my studies here, been lacking healthy public discourse. That is not to say people are not sharing their opinions with their friends, nor is it to say that people have been censored. Public discourse is more than just talking about international maritime trade law over lunch. The Goucher Bubble has alienated many students on campus, not because they feel they are a minority politically, but because there are no safe spaces for dissenting opinions to be voiced. Conversations must be held on all aspects of our modern world. This includes the direction Goucher College has taken. Majors being phased out is only part of the story; the very identity of liberal arts is being redefined and we, students, must be a part of that conversation. Us students must create mechanisms for voicing ourselves to each other and to the larger Goucher institution.
To achieve these goals, I first must ask club leaders to invite speakers who are relevant and even radical. There is a valid argument as how to discriminate and chose which speakers we can and cannot invite. I am not going to provide a simple answer as to who should be provided the platform and who should not. That decision rests with club leaders, but I would say that if one has an unpopular belief, they are no less worthy of sharing their opinion for it. Learning about differing understandings creates bridges between people who have different narratives. A Republican pro-coal politician in West Virginia has a legitimate narrative just like young Democratic Socialist from Queens. We need to seek out these narratives and have them told to the Goucher student body so we all gain a more comprehensive understanding of the world we live in.
My second proposition is intended for the greater campus population. I encourage all of you to seek out groups to have these conversations. Do not be afraid to challenge yourself, and do not succumb to the mistake of judging someone’s character based on how they understand the world. If someone carries a moral stance that you reject, let them elaborate it, and if they are wrong, their explanation and a discussion should correct it. I am a firm believer in the ability of freedom of discussion and a society, no matter how small, that makes discord topics taboo further creates a detachment from the larger community it inhabits.
I also encourage all students to voice their opinions by attending faculty meetings and by engaging with professors and administrators when appropriate. Bring up Goucher’s identity in class, if permitting. What does a liberal arts education mean, and has Goucher betrayed it or merely modernized it? I have witnessed many incidents where opinions were screaming to be heard but there was no one willing to speak them. Breathe life into these opinions – there are avenues, including the one you are currently reading, for a minority dissension to be heard. Take a stance and I, along with the community, will respect you for it. If you are compelling enough, we may even join in with you.