Galipo: Opinions need to be shared, not hidden, at CWRU

Real Talk

“If I were you, I wouldn’t write or say something like that.”

I’ve heard those words time after time from people; whether it regards articles I’ve written, opinions on campus issues that I’ve been vocal about or just talking about the things that affect me on a daily basis. On a relatively frequent basis, people have gone out of their way to make sure that they tell me why they think my opinion is absolutely wrong.

While I commend these people for sharing their own opinions with me, being told that my experiences and feelings are simply not true should not be a common occurrence. More often than not, I hear why an argument I make is not valid, rather than receive a question as to why it is that I understand things the way I do.

Opinions are undoubtedly touchy subjects. It’s never easy listening to someone else’s opinion, especially when it doesn’t match up with your own. In the context of college campuses, it’s common for people to think that the setting would be open and understanding regarding different opinions. However, as many students know, this is not always the case.

I asked a student if she felt that CWRU is open, understanding and tolerant of people’s opinions. She told me, “Not all the time. In some classes I feel like I will be persecuted and yelled at for stating my opinion.”

I asked her if she felt that way outside of class, to which she replied, “People are very judgy and single-minded.”

The intimidation that surrounds speaking your mind at Case Western Reserve University is very real, and many students can attest to this. While this feeling is present in other environments, there seems to be a little more tension at CWRU than in other places. Part of this is due to the hyper-academic atmosphere. Ït’s common for students to feel nervous about being “wrong” in their opinions, especially when they feel that people might know more about something than they do, which should never be the case when discussing opinions.

Another reason that some may find it hard to share their opinions is due to CWRU’s student body. Students are so different and diverse, which is a good thing. However it can be hard for some people to even fathom why others might have the opinions they do. There can be, at least from my experiences, a disconnect among some students.

What’s important to remember is that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. No one should ever feel bad about sharing their views. Even if they might offend some people, those views are just as valid as other people’s. Of course, purposely offending others isn’t the same as expressing unpopular opinions and it’s important to always keep that distinction in mind. The lines between these acts are all-too-often blurred.

Life experiences and worldviews are some of the biggest factors that can form people’s
opinions about certain issues. There is no reason to tear someone down or keep him or her quiet just because those opinions do not match up with the ones you have in mind.

I appreciate and welcome open communication and uncensored conversations, and I think it’s great when other people allow me to see issues in a way I never have. However that is very different than when people preach their own opinions at me, expecting me to accept their thoughts as true.

We should all work on creating a more accepting and welcoming environment at CWRU. As long as people feel they cannot share their thoughts, we must continue to improve our tolerance and understanding of others’ feelings and opinions.

Anna is a fourth-year English and political science major.