February 24, 2020

The divisive effect of the US – Iran conflict on American Universities

 At the beginning of 2020, the world witnessed an alarming peak in the tensions between the United States and Iran. The widely discussed ramifications, following the 3rd of January 2020, have been centered on finance and economics; rising oil prices, plummeting tourism in the Middle East, and the blows to big banks.

 

Often overlooked, is the collateral damage we are facing right here in the bedrock of society; universities. 

American universities have always been known for having large discrepancies in political, social and economic ideologies. An example of this divide is manifested in the popular naming of “saltwater” and “freshwater” universities, based on the dominant beliefs the community has with regards to economic policy.

 

Now-a-days, I witness this gap growing within our institutions, particularly in the polarization between students as a result of their conflicting ideologies. 

In my experience, students at American universities have always felt ideological tensions. However, given the current political landscape, there’s also an unfortunate degree of hostility that comes with that tension.

The complex politics and antagonism that originates at the center of government, Washington D.C, trickles down to our universities, and end up encouraging students to mirror this antipathy towards different beliefs in their social circles. 

It’s no news that Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on much, resulting in the stagnation of progressive policies in both society and economics. Democrats don’t seem to respect the authority of the executive office, abuse public perception and exploit populism to condemn republicans. 

Republicans have abused the freedom that institutions give them and, in many cases, misused them to depreciate the Democrat’s importance. Right now, in an era where this strained relationship reaches an extreme, this combination can significantly damage students, the base of society.

The war may be fought abroad, but it’s felt the hardest at the core of the nation and at the heart of young people working to make their country better. 

In my opinion, the best way to deal with this issue is to educate students on how to accept different ideologies. This is not to say, that students should ignore issues or differences. Debating shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing as long as it involves a civilized, intelligent and respectful discussion.

 

Through debating or conversing about an important issue like the US – Iran conflict, the parties involved could learn from each other and grow together as a community of students without it resulting in any hostility. 

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