Ryan’s Question: What’s the role politics play on campus? Are there ever situations where it becomes a taboo topic, or is it always something that people are expressive about?
Amberly’s Answer: Colleges do appear to be the most political sphere in our society, don’t they? With protests scattered throughout the week and speakers frequently coming to campus to give lectures on all sorts of topics, college provides numerous attitudes for one to “get political.”
That being said, I have to say that everything is political. Politics affect everything from our views of the world, to our interactions with others, to even our rotaries. (Who gets the nicely paved rotary? Who doesn’t? Why? How is/isn’t it funded?) Those who claim to be apolitical are unwittingly making a political statement: "I benefit enough from current politics to not have to worry about politics."
Consequently, I believe that college campuses aren’t necessarily the most political part of our society, but the part of our society with the most political tension. It’s a place to learn and grow and mature in our beliefs, to further and deepen our understanding of how politics plays out in our everyday lives. I know it has for me, personally, especially once I began to make friends with people of different backgrounds and take courses in the Afro-American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Departments.
We both were at the teach-in that the Afro-American Studies hosted last week. Through events like this one, I think we, as a campus, are starting to talk about which topics are more “taboo”: race, and how it impacts students, staff, and faculty on campus, whether they be people of color or white.
Some say that free speech is threatened on campus, saying that right-wing speakers and students no longer feel safe to have their opinions anymore, that they can’t say anything without being shut down. There’s been enough people who hold this opinion that UMass and other college campuses have had numerous events and panels regarding the matter. I personally do not believe that to be the case. Sure, freedom of speech allows you to have your opinion — but shouldn’t it also allow someone to challenge and protest your opinion? Isn’t that what debate is all about?
Hope that answers your question, or at least gives you something to think about!