Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

First, I want to say that no one on this campus is stopping anyone from speaking their mind. If you are truly devout in your beliefs, then say it, with no qualms. If you feel like someone shuts your opinion down, then ask them to explain why they were bothered.

Recently, a growing number of students on this campus feel as if they are not allowed to voice their opinions — that their freedom of speech is being, in some way, suppressed. I have heard students complain that they live in an environment that is “too PC” and that they are only allowed to subscribe to the same, single perspective.

While I understand and sympathize, I also have to disagree. A PC culture prompts us to think about how our words could affect others in regards to race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. In certain cases, PC language may seem ridiculous or farfetched to you, but it is an important step in being more respectful towards people with different backgrounds. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to voice disagreement at Andover. This school is intentionally diverse, home to a community representing a mosaic of backgrounds and opinions. Thus, it is natural to hear Andover students arguing in the classroom or debating with each other at open forums.

So, to anyone who feels that their First Amendment rights are being violated, perhaps the difficulty you have expressing your opinions is a reflection of the opinions themselves. Your opinion can be harmful — if it is an opinion and not a factually-incorrect statement disguised as one. This definitely does not mean that one side is always right. It is important that we nurture a culture of mutual respect and open dialogue.
Racial discrimination, gender bias and other forms of systemic prejudice are real and here to stay, regardless of how you feel or what you believe about them. Blacks and Latino are stopped by the police at rates much higher than whites, and are much more likely to be victims of police brutality — that is a fact. Women earn less than men in nearly every industry — that is a fact as well, backed up by numbers and figures. We must also be mindful of how race, gender and other aspects of identity intersect and inform each other. This mindfulness will breed cautiousness and awareness to all students and to their opinions in turn.

The point is that there are stances and opinions rejected for good reason. These are often the ones that are “hard to voice.”

So instead of worrying so much about speaking, students should take a moment and listen. Think hard about why your opinion may not be the predominant one. And think about the people you harm, oppressed or otherwise, in order to maintain your beliefs.

Thank you,
Joe Okafor ’17

Signatories:
Krishna Canning ’16
Maddie Comer ’16
Ryan Fischer ’16
Sara Kowdley ’16
Fran Trautmann ’16
Andrew Wang ’16
Christian Alberga ’17
Emma Kaufmann-LaDuc ’17
Trevor Lazar ’17
Myioshi Williams ’17
Abdu Donka ’18
Cindy Espinosa ’18
Alexa Goulas ’18
Natalie Landaverde ’18
Emily Ndiokho ’18
Annie McGovern ’18
Teagan Thompson ’18
Tyler Murphy ’19
Melanie Tlaseca ’19

Jan 15, 2016