December 4, 2020

Guest Commentaries: Students Respond to last weeks student piece, “Hypocrites”

BY MATT JAMIESON

Why must we be forced into one image if we agree with a certain set of beliefs?

I was less than pleased to be lumped into Mr. Coppenbarger’s definition of what a “liberal” is in his op/ed piece “Hypocrites.”

Yes, I am a liberal, but I am nowhere near what was printed in last week’s issue of what he perceives liberals at Webster to be.

I have many conservative friends, and because we are all mature students, we are able to openly express our views without having to resort to name-calling.

I’m not at all the image presented in this piece. Guess what? I actually identify somewhat with its author. I read a variety of news sources every day ranging from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BBC, the London Guardian, Le Monde, La Prensa — all are publications who couldn’t be more apart from each other on the spectrum.

When President Obama addressed the nation on our involvement in Libya, I went to see what the GOP’s reaction would be. In short, I don’t let my biases consume me. I try to think for myself and process things logically.

Now I will get heated at times about the things that could affect my livelihood:  equal rights, same-sex marriage, etc. But I don’t identify with every liberal viewpoint. I’m actually in favor of a few conservatives ones, believe it or not. I think that it is what irritated me most about this piece — the perceived notion that liberals here at Webster are all immature and all should be in the same category.

So by this assumption because I’m gay, support equal rights and a woman’s right to choose, automatically I’m a whiny person who can’t see past my own point of view? If anyone decides to confront me with a differing opinion, I’m automatically not going to accept and try to force my views down their throat.

This is not true in the slightest. Quite the opposite in fact — these four years at Webster actually helped me to mature. The university community was how I was able to find a support base and was an influential part in my coming out at 20.

During that time I also found those that didn’t (and would never) agree with me, and it forced to me to realize that not everyone is going to think the same way I do. So I learned to treat those who are different from me, even those a different viewpoint, with respect.

Do I not see eye-to-eye with people sometimes? Absolutely. But I do it in a way that isn’t going to demean a person. I’ve grown in my time here. I’m no longer going to crap on a person’s views just because they don’t gel with mine. Now, do I support the protest efforts against Kit Bond at our Commencement in a few weeks?

Here’s another surprise — at first I did.

Now? No, I do not. I’m actually planning to leave before the general ceremony even starts, because I don’t want my graduation day marred with memories of this protest (which to me seems to be teetering more and more out of bounds). I respect the rights of free expression and a right to protest. I’m not in favor of the man himself, but the more I think about it, it should not have to be this big of a deal.

I hope conservative and liberal students realize that like it or not, we’re in this together, and the more we attack each other, the more we distance ourselves from each other.

We need to respect differences, because that at its nature is what diversity truly is.

BY KELSEY RISMAN

The opposition we (protesting students) pose against Senator Kit Bond says nothing about us being closed-minded. Had you consulted anyone on the informal task force working to organize a message to Senator Bond, you would have known that at the center-point of our discussions is how exactly are we going to make our point while still showing him the respect ANY human deserves when speaking publicly. The students putting effort toward this thoroughly understand that showing Senator Bond the same disrespect and disregard that he has shown marginalized identities only furthers the tension that prevents us from coexisting.

Some students are opposed to Kit Bond as a speaker because he has shown over and over that he denies basic rights and privileges to some humans — mostly to those who are not white, male and heterosexual. Our opposition follows these questions: Why aren’t men and women protected from discrimination based on their sexuality or gender? Why is sexual orientation an appropriate reason to be fired in Missouri? If someone beats the crap out of me, and writes “FAGGOT” on my forehead, why shouldn’t that person be charged with a hate crime? Who benefits from cutting funds from public education? And why shouldn’t you help proliferate projects and businesses run by women and minorities when everyone is well aware that the United States harbors a deep androcentric bias?

Perhaps I’m being dramatic. But to me, this seems like such an easy position to grasp. We aren’t protesting the message of his speech — in fact, I’m certain Senator Bond will have extremely insightful things to say on May 7th, and I assure you that protesting students will also be listening very closely to what he has to say. We are protesting particular parts of his worldview, specifically, those that appear to condescend human diversity. Stifling the rights of only certain varieties of humans is flat-out dangerous because it excludes people with valuable contributions to society from an equal opportunity to be successful.

We are making a point, a performance, an opposition, a protest, because anything else would mean that Senator Kit Bond’s privilege to make decisions that perpetuate oppression would be looked over. Not doing something is admitting to the silence that blankets human creativity.

How many times, and for how many years, has the world told black people, women, Hispanics, gays, trans-gendered men and women, the poor, to just shut up and appreciate what they’re given? That seems to be what you’re saying to us right now. I feel like you’re saying, “Be quiet, and don’t disrupt business as usual.” We absolutely will not.

Perhaps some graduates might be annoyed or disrupted by protesting students. To those students, I ask you to excuse our encroachment on your right to business as usual.

But as you scuff at the sight of your peers “disruptively” aligning behind one statement of equality, please think very hard about this last statement: In every-day life, protest against “who I am” is absolutely ubiquitous. How many other people on this campus can say that? How many in Missouri? How many in the whole World?

I’ll be standing for every single one of them.

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