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Keep on fighting

Chris Allen | Tuesday, March 2, 2010

While almost every student at Notre Dame stepped onto campus as a freshman with a long list of extracurricular activities they excelled in during their high school years, not all of us had the time or the quick tongue necessary to join the Debate Club. Regardless, Notre Dame students love to debate, and this is never more evident than when one reads the Viewpoint section of this paper.

Many lament Viewpoint wars as a silly way to argue about important issues, but I take a different, more positive view on these week-long (and sometimes month-long) arguments. As my academic advisor Dr. Steve Brady told me when we discussed my involvement at The Observer, “It wouldn’t be Notre Dame if people weren’t angry about something.” Viewpoint wars are extremely important to the Notre Dame community and should be celebrated as such.

Whether we are arguing about ridiculous things like Swedish meatballs or important economic issues like wages of University workers, the Viewpoint gives us an important venue to engage each other in intellectual and structured debate. In the recent debate over wages, undergraduates, graduates, alumni and professors alike have chimed in with their opinions. This type of living, breathing dialogue has broken down the barrier that is so frequently observed in college lecture halls where the students are on the receiving end of the pedagogical process but offer minimal contributions. In the Viewpoint section, the freshman student and the tenured professor are on an equal playing field, where the community will absorb their words all the same.

The Viewpoint section also represents perhaps the most important and most basic agent of change on campus. The Observer is read across campus, but except for the Viewpoint the platform is reserved for writers like myself. By necessity, the Viewpoint is the first step for most students who are looking to initiate change. The University is a big place, with a lot of offices, a lot of departments, and a lot of people. Writing a letter to the newspaper where, with luck, it will be published and read and contemplated by thousands of people is the easiest and most approachable way of initiating change. At the very least it is more attractive than cutting through the bureaucracy of a big university.

So let’s relish the opportunity to debate on the pages of Viewpoint. While we’re at it, let’s acknowledge a few general rules. The people that you are arguing with are fellow Domers, so keep that in the back of your mind. The pages of the Observer are above playground-style name-calling and belittlement of one’s ideas, so keep it civil. With that said, long live Viewpoint, and keep on fighting, Irish.