I am writing in response to both Caelin Mills’ article, “Right-leaning students still feel unheard in wake of Trump presidency,” as well as the reactive letter to the editor penned by Samantha Durr, director of political affairs and grievances for Black United Students.
In Mills’ article, a number of Kent State students discussed the problems they’ve faced on campus because of their conservative political views. This is an issue, they say, that has become exacerbated due to the recent presidential election in our country. They offer up specific examples of the backlash they’ve received from fellow students across the university.
Samantha Durr’s response to this article, on the other hand, completely validates the concerns that those conservative students have. Her language and choice of words are aggressively intolerant. She even goes beyond attacking the interviewees in the article and lashes out at The Kent Stater itself for “permitting” the students to voice their opinions.
And that’s what they are: opinions.
They are not “misrepresentations” of university organizations or other students on campus. That’s a word that Durr is certainly fond of overusing in her letter. But to paraphrase Inigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride," I don’t think that word means what she thinks it means.
The students in Mills’ article have differing opinions and perspectives than Durr, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That doesn’t make either party “wrong” or “bad.”
Perhaps Colten Dalton, an openly gay conservative featured in Mills’ article, had a bad experience with PRIDE! Kent. Who is Ms. Durr to say his perspective is dismissive or disrespectful?
In her attempts to defend the left-wing organizations from the alleged (read: nonexistent) demonizing the students in Mills’ article unleash, she herself has become the bullying, intolerant demonizer.
Again, this behavior and attitude is exactly the kind of backlash conservative students are facing on Kent State’s campus and many other universities around the country.
“Dismissive views won’t be tolerated” sounds like a person who is so threatened by an opposing perspective that they constantly have to assure themselves that their own worldview is beyond reproach.
Jacob Tabler, one of the conservative students interviewed in Mills’ article, hits it on the head: “For the party that claims to be the most open-minded and tolerant, (liberals) seem to have a preconceived notion of what we are, usually that we are very hateful people. But they don’t take the time to understand what our positions are and more importantly why we think the way we do. If they would actually take the time to understand that, they might have a better opinion of us.”
College is an opportunity to meet and listen to people with differing ideals, opinions and perspectives than yours. Unfortunately, a growing number of students seem to prefer living in an echo chamber surrounded by like-minded friends in an ideological “safe space.”
This is not how we learn to be better people.
Dustin Lee is a video producer and editor for University Communications and Marketing, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.