Several weeks have passed since the Students’ Association’s controversial Sexual Awareness Week. Perhaps the most divisive element of the week was the proposal to show a pornographic film. Whether one is for or against the public showing of pornography is not particularly relevant at this point. What is relevant, however, is that the divisiveness of this issue illuminated something far greater – the cultural divide that is polarizing not just Eastman, but the country itself. A recent story in the New York Times detailed America’s latest culture war. Not unlike the culture war of the 90s, the core issues seem to be abortion rights, the rights of homosexuals and the nebulous idea of indecency. For many conservative minded Americans, the line has simply gone too far to the left, and for some liberal Americans, the line has not gone far enough to the left. Lobbyists and lawmakers will undoubtedly battle to the bitter end about where this line should go. On a college campus, however, whose responsibility is it to fight this battle – students, parents, alumni or administrators? As far as I am concerned, a private college campus without religious affiliation, such as this one, should not be a place for such a battle. It goes without saying that college is a place for young men and women to become the educated leaders of the future. An equally important aspect of this education, however, is not necessarily musical or academic, but social as well. If nothing else, for many, college is a time to discover who they are. Many students form firm religious beliefs for the first time. For others, it is perhaps the first time that they discover that there are people will accept their sexual orientation. College should be a time when students are able to openly engage in dialogue about their similarities, or lack thereof, of their values and beliefs. This enables each individual to decide for him or herself the core values they will posses as adults. For anyone to squash this opportunity because an issue goes against his or her own personal morality is not only tantamount to saying diversity in beliefs is silly – it is a view that is against everything a college campus should stand for. This leads to perhaps the largest point of all. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, it is commonplace in schools across America for “majoritarian” religious practices and morals to be sanctioned by teachers and administrators. It is futile to bemoan administrators, teachers or even students attempting to curtail illicit drug use and underage drinking. These activities are, after all, illegal. For any of these individuals, however, to step in and try to stop legal activities because of his or her own personal values goes against the entire notion of civil liberties and freedom of expression. The right of any individual to freely express him or herself, within the realm of legality, ought to be sacrosanct. Students who wish to assemble and watch pornography should not be treated any differently from those who wish to assemble and watch football. Students who wish to gather and talk about God are just as entitled to do that as students who may want to gather and discuss bondage and sado-masochism. The extremity of the examples here is intentional, because such extremes are bound to exist on almost any college campus across America. Many would probably argue that people are free to discuss these things in private and that school sponsored activities of this sort are tantamount to university wide acceptance of such things. Again, this logic is flawed because it assumes that sado-masochism, pornography, football or God require a rather arbitrary moral judgment on the part of the university or the student body. I have yet been able to find such a directive in the constitution of the Students’ Association or the mission statement of the university. The likely reason is because the vast majority realizes that tolerance and respect of differing views does not necessarily imply acceptance. Instead, it implies a readiness to accept other viewpoints and in so doing, an assurance of well roundedness that may not be garnered otherwise. Rather than lamenting the moral decay of America or complaining about the conservative right taking over and standing in judgment of one another, college students should make an attempt to understand one another. Debate the issues rather than calling home and complaining to your parents. Try to understand where your colleagues are coming from rather than making appointments with administrators to discuss how offended you are. Remember that what is indecent for you may be perfectly acceptable for another. Leave the fighting of the culture war to the people that have already graduated, because, hopefully, they took advantage of opportunities to learn about the views of others rather than simply squashing them once they became uncomfortable. Haynes can be reached

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