Columbia sometimes too liberal

By The Columbia Chronicle

By Eleanor Blick

Columbia has historically been a liberal institution, from its founding in 1890 to its resurrection in the 1960s during a peak of political change.  As an open-admissions college, Columbia attracted freethinking students and professors that cultivated an open mindset.  Former Executive Vice President Albert Gall was even arrested during Chicago’s infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention.

This liberal attitude has stayed with Columbia through decades of development.  Now it dictates the tone of classrooms and the direction of discussions.  Conservative viewpoints are often missing, and a curriculum that only recognizes select parts of a social dialogue stifles every student’s education.

Of course, Columbia is a liberal arts school.  Liberalism is often attached to the arts, and most students expect a certain campus environment—especially in a Democratic hub like Chicago.  That said, there are still conservative students that choose Columbia and everyone should acknowledge, respect and learn from every part of the campus population.

In classrooms, some teachers have offered extra credit for participating in politically charged events, like protesting the opening of an Army recruitment center or walking in an LGBT rights march.  But would teachers offer incentives if a student were part of a pro-life demonstration?

However inadvertent as it may be, some teachers push agendas.  It is inappropriate to have students participate in a union workers strike for a midterm grade, even voluntarily, without exploring management’s viewpoint.  Furthermore, it is not necessary to know the political leanings of your Fundamentals of Speech Communication teacher.

Teachers need to be more conscious of what information they are presenting and how it is presented.  Education should stress learning about all sides of issues.  Politicizing students is ineffective.

There are classes, however, where political discussion is completely relevant.  Then, it falls not only to the teacher to present all sides, but to students to think critically and work toward a balanced debate.  While most students in the conversation may be liberal, it is everyone’s responsibility to listen to and respect any opposing viewpoint.

We cannot be the open-minded school we claim to be if we do not welcome conservative viewpoints, along with every other opinion out there.