It is okay to disagree with people. It is okay to voice your opinion — and you should. But it is not okay to make petty, ad hominem attacks on those with whom you disagree. In the last issue of The Acorn, an anonymous opinions article expressed harsh criticisms of the Honors Program and administrative faculty. Although there is nothing really inherently wrong with that, as Americans, we have a rich history of scrutinizing authority figures; however, we are students at a University. We have been trained for most of our time in education to use evidence to support our claims, and to be truth-seekers and change makers.
I can imagine that if a reader did not know Dr. Stephen Dunaway, the current director of the Baldwin Honors Program, after reading the article they would think that he was some kind of villain who had set out to bring the Baldwin Honors program to its knees. Anyone who knows him well though, can see through the thinly veiled hit piece. Personally, I have only seen him have good rapport with students, try on numerous occasions to engage with the Baldwin community, and meet every student who is a part of the program
PHOTO COURTESY OF LINKEDIN
This is only a symptom of the disease here at Drew, and more broadly in America. In April, a Black
Lives Matter sign in Seminary Hall was defaced. The vandal wrote ‘All Lives’ over ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Last week, flyers for the Drew Republicans were torn down. These juvenille acts should not be happening here. We are students at a University. We make our points with factually supported arguments and scholarly debates. We do not shut down our opponents, silence them, and vandalize. If your ideas are so good, then you should not be afraid of the other side’s view. Having to question the validity of your core beliefs is a healthy intellectual exercise — one you should do often.
I am a Democrat, and frankly, I was incredibly disappointed when I heard about the Drew Republican’s posters being vandalized. It makes Democrats look bad. Don’t tear down posters. Go vote. Bring your friends to vote. Speak up for what you believe in and convince those who disagree with you to see things your way. Most important of all is our duty to not paint opposition as the enemy. Those are two very different things. We should remember that many of the greatest atrocities in human history occurred because one group stopped seeing another as people. It is our responsibility, as future leaders of the private sector, public sector, and academia, to be above divisive rhetoric, and to see through weak arguments — to pull our peers up with us and not push them down.
When I read last week’s opinions piece, I was naturally upset. I am so sick of these tactics. Of course, there is nothing that cannot be improved, but what could have been a positive, constructive piece, became unnecessarily inflammatory and personal. Last semester Vice President Joe Biden said, “Never question someone’s motives.” I am not so naïve as to think that everyone has good intentions. In fact, I think there are quite a few people who don’t. However, we should assume people’s motives are authentic until the evidence suggests otherwise. The average person goes through their life trying to do their best, whether or not they succeed, whether they vote for people with little R’s or D’s next to their names, whether they look or talk or think like you. There are people who stand to profit off our divisions. Let’s not play their games. Make them play ours.