I go to a liberal arts college. The definition of a liberal arts college according to Wikipedia is a college that “aims to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities.” When I read broad general knowledge, I believe this is talking about having a wide range of topics covered and viewpoints discussed. I have noticed that liberal colleges also focus on having diversity, whether that be in races, sexualities, genders, cultures, or opinions. That is all well and good in theory, but often it does not play out.
One specific voice that I barely ever hear from on my campus is Republicans. Obviously, if you’ve ever read an article of mine, you may have noticed that I am quite liberal. Initially, I loved the fact that everyone around me had the same viewpoints I had and thought the same way about everything. However, recently we had ROTC members visit one of my classes, and they talked about how the military can bring in a voice that is different from most of the other voices in the class. I am definitely not pro-war (and apparently neither are most soldiers, which was new to me), and was annoyed at first that they were even visiting (not that I don’t respect soldiers, because I do). However, while they were talking, I realized that having various voices in class and around campus is incredibly important for discussions.
Since starting college in September, I have not come across a single vocal Republican. I have never had my ideals about the world challenged or questioned. Growing up in an environment like that can actually become toxic. Without opposing opinions conflicting with yours, it never allows anyone to reach further into why they believe what they do. I never thoroughly think about why I am totally against X or totally for Y, and I think that having knowledge about other opinions is critical in understanding your own. Knowing all sides of an argument helps you find the opinion/argument that most aligns with your ideals. Having other voices could even educate you on a topic you thought you were super knowledgeable about, but you actually were fed the wrong information sometime in your life and you never thought to correct it or fact check.
Having ROTC members come to our class and speak to us about their various beliefs made me realize that I had always had this thing against anyone in uniform, but really I just don’t like the act of war. I realized that I still respect and appreciate the soldiers, and the people who fight for this country may even have some of the same views that I do.
Overall, although I may disagree with one political view or another, it is still important to understand and be knowledgeable about all views on a subject to better my own arguments and beliefs! This is definitely something I am going to work on from now on, and hopefully I will come across more diverse viewpoints as I go through college.