August 29, 2017
College campuses have a reputation for fostering critical thought.
We go to institutions of higher education to better ourselves for our future careers. In the process, we also better ourselves by considering other points of view.
Freedom of speech is seen mostly as a unilateral concept; everyone should have the ability to speak their mind, share their opinion and criticize institutions in America.
However, it should be clear that even though speech in the U.S. is free, it does not make some ideals popular or even acceptable in the context of our university.
Last week, a flyer entitled “Social Justice Collective Weekly” was distributed on public bulletin boards in various buildings on campus by what seems to be an off-campus source.
The flyers called for veterans to be banned from college campuses veterans “frustrate” the goals of learning, understanding, safety and security at four-year universities, according to the flyer’s author, Terry Steinawitz, who is not affiliated with UCCS.
The flyer drew backlash from both military-affiliated and unaffiliated students alike for good reason.
By painting the veteran community as a threat to the academic institutions within our country, Steinawitz implies that military students are second-class citizens that do not deserve the same freedoms as their peers.
In 2016, there were 2,778 students who had a military affiliation on campus, according to the fall databook published by the Office of Institutional Research in January 2017.
Veterans are an important part of our community at UCCS, and they should not be discriminated against in such a heinous fashion.
Preventing veterans from coming to college is unacceptable. The fact that this must be stated is astonishing.
Serving in the military should not prevent any person from getting a higher education, and the right to attend university and obtain a college degree should be available to everyone.
Now, more than ever, we need to be reminded of our UCCS P.R.I.D.E., the campus creed that was created this year for UCCS students.
The first sentence in our creed is about making the university an inclusive learning environment that strives on its diversity and uses that to drive positive change in ourselves and in the community.
We at UCCS “value each other’s unique qualities and are able to discuss powerful topics with kindness and an open mind,” according to the creed.
Isolating a group of students on campus for the purpose of discrimination goes against the campus creed’s purpose.
Some opinions, like the ones posted in the flyer, are difficult to hear. Some would argue that these should be censored. But part of preventing this hateful rhetoric from entering our campus is by understanding its origin.
This means that when events like this happen, we need to have a conversation of how we can move forward to continue the university’s inclusive values.
These controversies need conversation, and those conversations need to be balanced to drive effective change. Within those important discussions, there will be disagreements. Disagreements always pop up in important national, state-wide or local discussions.
University students should be mature enough to be mindful of how they respond to someone else’s opinion. Working to achieve a higher education should play a role in the way we respond to controversy.
If that education teaches us to be non-inclusive, we lose a valuable side of many controversies facing our nation.
We should be encouraging people to stand up for themselves and embrace diversity of ideas and opinions, because not everyone fits the mold.
The marketplace of ideas is a valuable one to have on campus, and excluding a major demographic of students goes against that very idea of inclusiveness and acceptance that the UCCS creed promotes.