A school for all views
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 21, 2016
That’s the message Notre Dame portrays loud and clear to all students who want to apply. As the Mission Statement proclaims, “The intellectual interchange essential to a university requires, and is enriched by, the presence and voices of diverse scholars and students.” So, if this is true, can it not be inferred that here at Notre Dame we accept a large variety of perspectives, including some that might conflict with the traditional Catholic viewpoint?
Hold your horses right there. So even people who speak against Catholic doctrine are welcome here on campus at Notre Dame to share their thoughts and opinions?
You bet your cute little buttons they are.
If they were not welcomed on campus, Notre Dame could not be the fantastic institution of education that it is today. In order to have any place in the academic community, Notre Dame needs to welcome people of all walks of life and ideologies to fully educate the students of all the different perspectives that exist in our world.
Only exposing students to one viewpoint (pun intended) is immensely problematic. It brainwashes students, not allowing them to see that there are other ways to think out there in the world. Though this can be easily combatted in today’s modern society and with easy access to technology, it is still important for young minds to realize that they are not alone in this world, that their ideas are not wrong and their thoughts are legitimate. R. Roderick Palmer, who writes on this idea, sees education systems that hinder their students’ freedom of thought as not really education at all, but indoctrination. McCauley, another expert on this matter, would say something similar, that education calls for, “a full and undistorted presentation of the evidence for a case and it is precisely in its distortion of the evidence that indoctrination offends.” By only presenting one side of a matter, or just the Catholic perspective of the matter, those institutions that shield their students from ideas that conflict with their own are guilty of not educating but indoctrinating their students. This is not a healthy idea of education.
It is important for students to hear as many sides of an issue as possible. Just this week, Wendy Davis, who fought for reproductive rights in the Texas state senate, and speakers “restoring common sense to feminism” (which was, unfortunately, canceled) were brought to campus. To me, this is amazing. I am able to listen to all these different ideas, sort through them for myself and decide what to think, and Notre Dame is helping me do this. Claiming that either one of those speakers is polluting young minds is incredibly flawed and speaks of the little respect that one would have for the students here at Notre Dame. We deserve to be given the respect to make up our own minds; we have agency, we have choice and we can understand what we personally think is right or wrong. We do not have to agree with everything just anyone tells us. We know who we respect and we know who to listen to. Exposing us to more perspectives, including those that conflict with the traditional Notre Dame Catholic viewpoint, gives us the ability to listen respectfully to what other people have to stay, stand firm in our beliefs, and maybe even allow our world view to widen or change.
Listen to all the different perspectives surrounding you, Catholic or not. Listen carefully, listen respectfully, but listen. That’s what we are here for. We are here to learn and we learn by listening. Take everything in, think about it, then decide what you think about it. Do not take away our right to choose for ourselves.
We deserve that much.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.