A recent poll of Penn College Republicans reveals something we never would have expected. While a 60 percent majority of Republican students do not support Donald Trump, a surprising 40 percent of them answered that they support the controversial candidate.
Many of us might have been confused to find out that so many of our fellow students support the Republican presidential nominee. This reaction is largely because there is almost no visible and vocal representation of these students on campus. The misalignment between the results we expected from a Republican student poll and and the actual numbers indicates a deeper problem with freedom of speech at Penn.
Comparing the results to public expectations makes it appear that conservative students do not voice their opinions out of fear of being shot down or even ostracized by the larger groups of liberals. The Daily Pennsylvanian Opinion Board believes that we as Penn students should work to change the environment for political dialogue on campus to one in which everyone feels empowered to express their opinions, political or otherwise — even those we disagree with.
Students at liberal universities like Penn tend to pride themselves on being open-minded, but this label has become conflated with being liberal. Our school is becoming an echo chamber. We might think that we are listening to others, but in reality we often immediately reject most opinions that do not match our own. This is not to say that one opinion is right and the other is wrong, but rather that a diversity of opinion is necessary for productive political discourse and subsequent progress.
We are not advocating that active political groups like Penn Democrats change their actions. Rather, we’re calling for Penn College Republicans and other such groups to step up and voice their opinions, and for student outside of those groups to engage in dialogue. We all need to recognize that a campus intolerant to the conservative point of view is just as negative as the opposite, and we should try to consider opposing opinions with as little bias as possible.
Diverse viewpoints lead to stimulating academic and social environments, which benefit all of us. A school full of diverse socioeconomic, cultural and political backgrounds helps to prepare us for a world where we might meet all kinds of people. It teaches us how to interact with people with whom we disagree and solidifies our understanding of important and controversial issues.
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