As a junior and double major in Political Science and Economics, current events frequently come up in class. This discussion of what is happening in our “real” world on a daily basis often ends up being just as dry as the lecture. What I’ve always wished to hear during these discussion periods – and what I have only recently discovered at UR – is that professors do in fact have their own opinions, just like us.
I think any student here will agree that our UR professors are a cut above the rest. Forty thousand dollars a year may not be able to buy you a parking spot, but apparently it can attract some very bright people and teachers.
But what is so bad about voicing your own opinions in a way that inspires others to contribute to the discussion as well? There is a very strong stigma surrounding many universities that they are hot beds of liberalism which breed crazy left-wingers. In my small realm of experience, I have found this to be false. In the end, what does it all matter if you are a socialist or a capitalist, a Democrat or Republican? We as students, and professors as experts in their respective fields, should be able to partake in educated, opinionated discussions without being scared of offending someone. Speaking from personal experience, my professors are some of the brightest people I have ever had a chance to be around – we as their pupils should, in turn, value their opinions.
There is a way to have these heated political debates that lays out a myriad of different opinions and allows the individual to come to his or her own conclusion. It should not be up to the University to shield us from our own professors’ opinions, but instead to do just the opposite. I promise, we will not be brainwashed into liberal zealots, but instead become better-informed, smarter people. College students are at the unique age that enables them to listen to many different opinions before truly forming their own opinions on issues. Students understand that when you turn on FOX News, it will most likely have a conservative bias just as much as PBS may have a liberal bias. For this same reason, I invite professors to share their own opinions on issues no matter what their bias, as long as they preface it by letting students know that this is indeed opinionated material about which they should, in turn, formulate their own thoughts.
Students on campus would never allow a professor to use his or her pedestal as a crutch to propagate their own ideas and thoughts without leaving room for students to play devil’s advocate, explore other viewpoints and then, afterwards, come up with their own opinion.
Now I have finally discovered a professor who has said, “This is my political viewpoint, what do you think?” To hear a professor providing his own opinions was refreshing and sparked students to actually talk about what they believed in and cared about. Why should we go out on a limb and display our own thoughts and opinions in a fair, educated way when professors, in general, refuse to give us the same courtesy and instead shelter us from their own opinions?
Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.