Students speak louder through silence than speech

Contraception. The war on terror. President Barack Obama.  Immigration rights. Same-sex marriage. Everyone has heard about these issues. And everyone is entitled to their opinion about them. But how many times do we actually hear what these opinions are?

Elon University would be better suited if its students were more vocal about their opinions, both social and political, as it would illustrate a more diverse and informed student body.

If you’ve been keeping up with The Pendulum, then you recently saw an excellent example of the importance of student opinion. Austin Faur, an Elon freshman, wrote a letter to the editor in support of Amendment One that ran in last week’s edition.

These days, identifying oneself as a liberal or conservative isn’t exclusive to politics. It’s treated as a lifestyle now, one that colorizes one’s cultural, familial and religious values.

Regardless of whether you agree with him, Faur took a considerable leap of faith by voicing his disagreement, an action that should be more encouraged at Elon.

But this should not serve as an impetus for students to blindly argue over trivial matters just for the sake of instigating discussion.

College campuses are a place for differing opinions and debate, and they encourage students to broaden their horizons. It should not be a matter of what person or ideology is right or wrong, but rather what is best for the people on campus.

Implementing discussion over issues that divide us is part of Elon’s perpetual goal to produce globally engaged citizens. And it is a goal whose success is largely dependent on the efforts made by its students.

In order to become globally engaged citizens, we must demonstrate an ongoing concern for the issues that envelop our society.

And while some Elon students are noticeably vocal about their social and politicial beliefs, it seems that most students are speaking louder through their silence than through their words.

Why students refrain from voicing their viewpoints varies with each student. Some students may be uncomfortable talking about their opinions in front of their peers for fear of being labeled.

Others actively avoid confrontation and disagreement in order to maintain the status quo. Still others may be uninformed or just apathetic toward social or political issues altogether.

But regardless of the reasons behind it, Elon students should not allow their silence to ring louder than their voices. Students should feel compelled to express their viewpoints without fear of social backlash.

Now, our conscious fear of disagreement and being labeled has allowed an overwhelming air of complacency to hang over our campus.

By complacency, we mean to suggest that there are bound to be some Elon students who do not necessarily agree with the actions and opinions that some of Elon’s more socially outgoing students exemplify, but choose to remain silent so as to maintain the status quo.

Perhaps they disagreed with the significance of the recent Trayvon Martin protest march through campus. Others may have disagreed with the decisions made by SGA or The Pendulum to officially rally against Amendment One.
Whether lack of interest or fear of reprisal was the cause of their silence, we may never know. Those students seem to exist as the true unspoken minority.

Often, fear of being labeled  as belonging within the minority, or the other side, is one of the predominant causes of lack of discussion amongst students on college campuses.

Human beings are social creatures, and our basic human tendencies propel us to want to feel desired and welcomed by our peers, not to be ostracized and shunned by them.

Unfortunately, our society’s current obsession with labels has now divided our population into two opposing factions on every issue. Liberal versus conservative, pro-life versus pro-choice, support our troops versus anti-war.
This self-imposed animosity between us deals more damage than any weapon ever could. It has allowed for the creation of an  “us-versus-them” mentality in our society, one that is more restricting toward the free exchange of ideas and opinions than most recognize.

College campuses are a place for differing opinions and debate, and they encourage students to broaden their horizons.It should not be a matter of what person or ideology is right or wrong, but rather what is best for the people on campus.

These days, identifying oneself as a liberal or conservative isn’t exclusive to politics. It’s treated as a lifestyle now, one that colorizes one’s cultural, familial and religious values.

Most students, however, do not want to be labeled as one or the other. Many college students today balance a combination of conservative and liberal beliefs, and are unwilling to take a side for fear of choosing the “wrong one.”

In this case, it is our complacency, our fear of disagreement, that is truly dividing us. Our students’ silence is deafening, and must be quieted now.

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