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  • Children of Eden written by Joey Graceffa
    By: Destiny Breniser This book was published in 2016 with its genre being Young Adult,  Dystopian, and Apocalyptic. This story is about Rowan, who is a second-born child living in a city where her entire existence is illegal. She longs for the day when she can leave her family’s house and live without fear.  She […]
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An open mind is essential to education

“BG and You,” our newest ad campaign. While I tend to think it’s a modest improvement over “Dream B!G” I also suspect that most students find it corny at best. But I’m going to pretend that it speaks to a powerful truth: personal choice in education.

As I have tended to point out, this University hosts some groundbreaking progressive material.

In previous columns, I have been less than charitable in discussing these programs, and while I have no intention of disavowing any prior columns, I would like to offer a new perspective on the potential of controversial programs.

A while back I wrote a column challenging the intentions of “Take Back the Night.” One result of this column was an invitation, extended by Kristy Ganoe, to speak to a women’s studies introductory course.

I was somewhat suspicious, and requested copies of the class’s reading materials. The readings I was provided were, in many ways, the embodiment of my fears. They were appeals to emotions, fear and empowerment.

They were controversial at best, and I found sections singularly vulgar and accusatory, and nearly backed out at the eleventh hour. In hindsight, I’m glad I did not.

I spent about an hour in the classroom, first presenting my own understanding of women’s advocacy, then fielding questions on the issue, and we continued talking after the class period had technically ended.

Civility and debate, therefore, are not mutually exclusive. Many of the participants in that discussion are probably still disgusted by my beliefs, but I would like to think they respect my conviction.

However, our obligation does not stop with mere civility. If listening is respectful to another, consideration is respectful to yourself.

While the individuals in that class were obviously willing to hear me out, it was also apparent that, for the most part, they had been unable or unwilling to independently challenge the material placed in front of them.

I am not advocating general cynicism. Instead, what I advocate is that, prior to debating others, debate yourself.

The University offers courses that, regardless of one’s own beliefs, are incredibly controversial. I encourage students to take courses they might find abhorrent and treat them not as testaments to truth, but as information to be processed, judged and adopted or discarded according to its validity.

But therein lies the irony of choice. A terribly overused clich’eacute; dictates that “the mind is like an umbrella – it functions best when open.”

That openness, however, must be a two-way process; otherwise it is an intellectual fraud.

Consider the recently concluded case of Carlos Adams.

We were told that Instructor Adams was of irreplaceable value to the University because of his personal experiences and ability to inspire minority students.

However, one of the earliest points of controversy surrounding the Justice for Carlos Adams movement was the premise that Adams had been unfairly denied tenure because he had been a vocal opponent of the instatement of Timothy Messer-Kruse as chair of the Ethnic Studies department.

His opposition was on the grounds that- a white male – lacked the necessary perspective to lead such a program.

What does it say about an advocate of diversity when he challenges another professional on the basis of skin color or origin?

This is the ultimate test of our open-mindedness – are we willing to challenge the “open minded?” Can an ethnic studies department be effectively led by a white male? Recent experience would seem to dictate “yes.”

I opened with the concept of “BG and You” because, in its painfully childish way, it makes an invaluable point.

The University can only do half the work. If you mindlessly adopt – or reject – the material placed before you, your time at this establishment is completely wasted. You sacrifice your values, your beliefs, your very self – and pretend it’s growth.

But if you challenge your professors to offer better explanations, more evidence and alternative perspectives, you can actually grow.

If you challenge your own beliefs, and the evidence you fixate on to validate those beliefs, then you accomplish much more than simple indoctrination.

It is no secret that I vehemently oppose many of the messages endorsed in progressive classrooms across campus.

However, whether those messages inspire indoctrination or growth is entirely up to you.

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