Think, talk more about acceptance in college communities

Mahalee Evans, Forum contributor

On Nov. 16 this past fall term, OSU minority students came together in Gill Coliseum to share their experiences.

They spoke about increasing racial sensitivity and overall inclusivity to all who came to listen on an open invitation. Having attended the event in person as a fellow minority, I felt that the words spoken were very powerful and it was certainly a moment of clarity for all those that attended to hear about student experiences through new sets of eyes. Although there were some moments of tension, I felt that the respect shown to those speaking was very great.

This respect however, was not shown at all online.

On a site called “4chan,” a blog where people can blog and discuss a variety of topics anonymously, several comments were posted using hateful and racist speech with the purpose of degrading the entire event. President Ed Ray commented on this the next day in a mass email: “…the racist, negative and hateful comments and behavior that were captured on social media during Monday’s ‘speak out’ are unacceptable and are completely against our values and aspirations as members of the Oregon State University community.”

As someone who believes in acceptance, I am also someone who believes in protecting the freedom of speech. According to the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU, “…the defense of freedom of speech is most necessary when the message is one most people find repulsive. Constitutional rights must apply to even the most unpopular groups if they’re going to be preserved for everyone.”

The ACLU has frequently represented most groups that people find unpalatable including but not limited to; Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, accused terrorists, pornographers, communists, anti-LGBTQ+ activists, and flag burners.

With the rise of the Internet has also come the rise of new outlets of communication to censor, and the ACLU is constantly combating those. One of their main objectives since the 1920s has been protecting the rights of free speech in schools.

As an outcome of this speak out, a meeting was scheduled a week later with President Ray and other unspecified university leaders to “address concerns; improve safety; and effectively and measurably ensure that OSU is a more collaborative, inclusive and caring community that strives for equity and equal opportunity.”

Ray then pledged to keep the Oregon State community up to date on the next steps by the end of the fall term. Since then, a position for a Chief Diversity Officer and Director have been created to oversee institutional changes in regards to “diversity, equity and inclusion”

I believe that as a country as we have become more politically correct, we have forgotten that the Constitution applies to all United States citizens not just to those whom we think are “correct” or “good.”

I believe in acceptance, yes, but I do not believe in only accepting those who share my way of thinking, life, sexuality, race, or political affiliation.

The concept of acceptance is thrown around too often by those who do not embrace the full sense of the word, not knowing that you don’t have to agree with, or even like someone to accept them, and this goes for everybody all across the board.

The opinions expressed in Evans’ column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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