Many students who hold more Republican or conservative ideals are afraid to speak out at Deerfield, understandably fear judgment and the flood of counterarguments that might be hurled their way. The lack of outspoken right-wing views on campus makes it easy for Republican opinions to be ignored or brushed aside. While it is not only crucial for more conservative voices to be heard on campus, students being afraid to express their opinions freely is indicative of a larger problem on campus: the majority opinion quickly becoming the only opinion.
In a school that prides itself on its diversity not only in appearances, backgrounds, and geography but also in thought and expression, multiple viewpoints within the community should be presented in order to spark meaningful conversation between contradicting or vastly similar ideologies. By flooding the campus with only one kind of viewpoint, we not only lose the value of opposing ideas and viewpoints that are necessary for healthy discussion, but we are also less educated about the thoughts and logic of the opposing side. As seen in the recent results of the unprecedented election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, lack of dialogue between opposing viewpoints ultimately leads to further polarization, surprise, and negative emotions.
After a fall term of inviting a variety of guest speakers including filmmaker Ken Burns, poets Martin Espada and Carlos Andrés Gomez, and an election panel including Nancy Dwight, a Republican strategist, Orin Kramer ’63, the Associate Director of White House Domestic Policy Staff in the Carter Administration, and Vinson Cunningham, a writer for the New Yorker who has experience working in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and as Director of the African-American Leadership Council within the DNC — none of which identified as a Trump supporter — the Deerfield community felt the negative consequences of having only one-sided political discussions present on campus in our emotionally charged responses to the 2016 election results.
If there is no one to challenge our views, we are not pressed to think more deeply about the reasons for our convictions. If opinions are hidden or silenced, the dream of living in a society that represents all voices is shattered.For those of us who applied to be a part of the Deerfield community, we came to become more knowledgeable and to broaden our perspective by thinking and rethinking our beliefs. To uphold this sentiment, we as a community need to practice open-mindedness and the willingness to challenge oneself. In this regard, the next time you are in class, invite a person into the class discussion that has a dissenting opinion from your own. Go to a club meeting where a controversial topic is being discussed. But while performing all these actions, be respectful towards those with opposite views.
The skill of being tolerant of and empathetic to all viewpoints is a skill that transcends all controversial topics from politics to race to gender and at The Scroll, we believe it is never too early to start practicing such a skill.