There’s something inherently rewarding about being involved in something contentious. It means you’re standing for an idea, a thought, a movement, that people have taken sides on. It means that you’ve formed an opinion that others may disagree with. Of course there are limitations to the value of being contentious – being so for its own sake is rarely good and usually just annoying – but looking at something critically and explaining your thought process or even trying to persuade others of your point, that is exercising our education.
Another key aspect of successful contention, vital to its inherent value, is respect: for the other person/organization/object, etc., you may be arguing about, but also for the others who hold the opposite belief or those who haven’t codified their beliefs.
We can localize or reify this article by talking about campus issues. The pages of the Dickinsonian have been filled with op-eds and Letters to the Editor both in support of and ardently against the new Sexual Assault Policy. That kind of response is admirable, but what concerns me is when those who may have reservations about the policy are codified as pro-rape. Similarly, those who actively support the new policy may be considered misandrists.
Do I have some reservations about the new policy? Have I heard of horror stories about the new policy, about insufficiently investigated cases and guys getting expelled? Yes. Does that make me supportive of rape? No. Do I think that a change needed to happen, and the policy needed reform? Yes. Does that mean that I hate frat guys and male sports teams? No.
The same can be said about those who may have different opinions about the death Trayvon Martin. It is possible to say that it didn’t happen because of race without being racist. Similarly, it is possible to say that it was a racially charged attack without additional stereotyping.
Achieving temperance on these volatile issues can be difficult. They’re incendiary by nature and need to be discussed carefully and respectfully – but they need to be discussed. Discourse is how we come to understand the world, and how we change it.
So, to Admissions, I’m sorry the article had terrible timing and that I potentially took a caustic tone. But I’m not sorry for bringing it up.