Guest writer Kendall Benjamin weighs in on the growing issue with free speech on college campuses. Kendall is a junior at Loyola University Maryland. She studies international business and political science. She is the vice president for Loyola’s chapter of College Republicans. After college Kendall wants to work in Washington, D.C. for a free-market nonprofit.
There is an artistic aspect to the First Amendment; it gives us the ability to not only articulate what we believe but allows us to dive into the minds and hearts of others to learn about what they believe. It is beautiful in the sense that it gives us the ability to freely and openly understand the human condition. Our morals, virtues, and systems of belief are all expressed through the First Amendment and since the infancy of American society, it is the basis for the creation of government, society’s moral high-ground, and on which change can occur.
If there were ever a time to dabble in the art of free speech, it is during one’s college career. The variety of backgrounds gives students the unique ability to grow in their understanding of the world. It is for this reason that I chose Loyola, a Jesuit and liberal arts institution. It is here that I hoped to learn from both professors and students, inside and outside of the classroom. Instead, I was met with a campus culture that persuades students into either joining the “majority,” or staying quiet and not openly expressing one’s opinion.
The university prides itself on being open for dialogue, however, only provides the basis for a one-sided dialogue. When President Donald Trump was inaugurated, for example, there was no bus bringing students into D.C. to attend. Instead, buses brought students for the Women’s March the next day.
University faculty feels so comfortable and resolute in their personal beliefs, that the Loyola’s dean of undergraduate studies held a post-election seminar to reassure students that even though Trump won through the electoral college, it was not the “will of the majority” and that we would be “okay.” This year, I had a professor grade me poorly on a paper advocating for a reduction in the corporate tax rate because “if I understood corporate responsibility I would understand the necessity of taxing large corporations heavily.”
It is certainly the right of each university faculty member to hold opinions, it is also their duty to create a dialogue surrounding these issues. It should be clear that the art of free speech is in need of a rebirth on college campuses.
Our responsibility as American citizens, college students, and human beings is to understand the human condition in every facet possible. It is the only way to move onward and forward as a free-thinking society. Without the ability to do so, we are no better than a society living under oppressive conditions. We are endowed with these rights by God and by God, we need to use them.