Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Take a chill pill

UMass students should learn how to fittingly react to situations

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(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Morgan Reppert, Assistant Op-Ed Editor

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Arriving to the University of Massachusetts this fall came with a lot of firsts: sharing a bathroom with over 45 hall-mates, sitting in lectures with more than 300 students and learning to use a verbal filter at all times on campus were just a few. Given UMass’ easily triggered reputation, I knew I would have to learn what sets people off and what’s not as obviously deemed as politically incorrect.

However, there seems to be a lack of tolerance for those whose opinions differ from the large majority. This lack of tolerance is evident when staff members and students don’t walk on eggshells for the specific, preferred ideals amplified on campus. I recognize that there shouldn’t be room for professors who preach hate or supremacist ideals, but those who have beliefs different than the campus’ norm should have the ability and respect to voice them.

I have borne witness to students irrationally responding to professors who remain objective in their remarks. For example, last semester, in my general education American politics class, I watched students get easily bent out of shape when our professor voiced controversial ideas solely for the point of triggering critical thought – not personal indignation toward the professor. I find it rather silly for a student to be spending more energy and outrage toward the professor than the material and issues they are attempting to make their students aware of. The beauty of college is to learn from a myriad of perspectives. If students can’t handle the Socratic process of learning and put themselves out of their comfort zone, how are they going to gain the most from their educational experience?

Unfortunately, at UMass, reactional hysteria is common, even with the launch of UMass’ “Hate Has No Home at UMass,” campaign aiming to reaffirm the university’s core values and its commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming living-learning environment for every member of the campus community” at the beginning of the current academic year, in light of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Additionally, in the beginning of the 2018 spring semester, the “Building Bridges” initiative was launched to promote community and foster connections. Instead of creating a more welcoming, accepting social climate, these campaigns shed light on and led to conversations about the acceptability of ‘hate’ toward students and their respective groups on campus that differ from the majority, such as Republicans or Libertarians, by the general, liberal, so-called ‘welcoming’ student body .

My greater point is not that UMass should limit free speech or create yet another initiative to install what they deem a “safe space.” Instead,  it must reaffirm the importance of responding to opposing views in context. Over the past month, I have seen an amplified response in accordance to the 2018 Student Government Elections. Yes, it’s crucial for students to conduct and hold a legitimate election process. However, at the end of the day it’s not the end all or be all. After writing for the Opinion and Editorial section for over a semester, I have witnessed readers respond very colorfully to opinion-based articles.

I think it’s great if a piece has initiated dialogue, but people who blow it out of proportion should take their reaction into check. Pick and choose your battles. Writing hateful deconstructive comments on a college paper’s website isn’t going to incite change anywhere.

UMass is no stranger to students throwing temper tantrums at public events or unsolicited responses to anything that is even slightly offensive to easily set off student groups. At most, UMass can reinforce that they offer the right to an inclusive environment that allows for healthy debate. But that doesn’t mean that reactions with the intention to shut down the beliefs of those who don’t full-heartedly agree with you are warranted. The nature of higher learning is to be removed from our comfort zone without feeling antagonized or attacked. College campuses are a place to challenge and breed new thought processes and inquiries; that cannot happen if people neglect to do so through the over-designation of safe spaces. Please, before you get bent out of shape, consider if it’s conducive to your learning experience as a person and a student.

Morgan Reppert is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Take a chill pill”

  1. NITZAKHON on March 7th, 2018 10:21 am

    The Marxist Faith brooks no discussion or debate… just slogging towards the great Peoples’ Paradise.

    That such efforts have always let to starvation, death, genocide, etc., is immaterial to the True Believer.

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