It’s okay to have an opinion. It’s okay to have an opinion that isn’t popular. More importantly, it’s okay to express an opinion, even if everyone else doesn’t agree with it.
Now, more than ever, we are living in self-sufficient bubbles. This isn’t always intentional and, for the most part, we tend to gravitate towards those who share similar views and experiences with us, simply because that is what we are comfortable with.
At Yale, one of those bubbles is liberalism. Over 80 percent of Yale College students identify as liberal, albeit at different points on the left-leaning spectrum. But this is incongruent to our nation and incongruent to the world outside of Yale. The bubble of constantly being “politically correct” will be popped, upon graduation, when we realize that the ideas that we are so used to surrounding ourselves with at Yale are not those that others necessarily agree with.
Liberal ideals manifest in different ways at Yale, but some of the most apparent are gender-neutral bathrooms, the change of the term “freshman” to “first year” and the idea of sharing our pronouns at the beginning of group activities, be they FroCo meetings or CCE workshops.
While plenty at Yale agree with these manifestations, there are some who don’t. And that’s okay. The prevailing belief tends to be that, if you are against one of these principles, then you concurrently have a foundational bias against the group that is allegedly marginalized. But, it should be okay — no, healthy — to listen to different viewpoints as opposed to outright sterilizing them. While your own opinion may not change, you just might become more informed. After all, at an educational institution, learning ought to be a priority. We don’t have enough discourse and we don’t learn from others because if we did, we might be more accepting of the other side.
Last week, I had a conversation with a good friend about gender-neutral bathrooms. For some, they are accepted. For others, they can cause discomfort. While this discomfort is caused by social norms, I can’t assume that social constructs do not exist because, to some, they do and they matter.
Being inclusive is important and making everyone feel as though they matter is important, but those efforts ought to also apply to those who have different views than others. We focus so much on ensuring that people from all backgrounds feel that their distinct identity is accepted, but we, for instance, dislike a friend’s Facebook status if they indicate that they are interested in going to a conservative speaker’s event.
This juxtaposition opposes the liberal philosophy so many of us swear allegiance to in the first place. If we ostracize those who may not see eye-to-eye with us, then aren’t we being exclusive?
In reality, the world is not politically correct and the world is not a liberal bubble. It’s important to have different ideas and a dichotomy of thought. Even if you don’t agree with an opinion, you should be willing to hear it out.
If one idea is the only publicly acceptable one, then Yale becomes a place where diversity isn’t valued and differences aren’t celebrated. If Yale students truly want to study and live in a hub of intellectualism, that hub should foster opinions that conflict with one another and debates that demonstrate the differences that we all have. Progress cannot be made if there is only one school of thought. Rather, progress occurs when different ideas are encouraged and celebrated.
Isha Dalal is a first year in Silliman College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.