Will King, I absolutely agree with you. We unquestionably have a problem with inclusivity at Davidson. However, our most pressing inclusivity problem is not the marginalization of conservative voices, it is the fact that every day, students are excluded based on their race, gender, sexual preference, familial income, and a host of other identities. I do agree that conservative voices and opinions can be hard to express here on campus. But when students are still being discriminated against, even inadvertently, because of their identity, something that is inherent to who they are, I do not see political inclusivity as the more pressing issue.
There are so many examples of exclusion-both intentional and unintentional-here on campus. Parties that have themes that appropriate other cultures. The allocation of real estate on campus-all of the predominately white PCC organizations have houses, while only one of the minority PCC organizations do. The perpetuation of microaggressions. The financial barriers that prevent students from participating in everything from fraternity formals to out of class research. The heteronormative assumptions implied in events such as ‘My Tie’ semiformals. The town of Davidson and our campus are both extremely exclusive spaces, one in which only certain populations are welcomed.
There is a difference between the political opinion, that which should be respected and debated in a considerate manner, and discriminatory attitudes, which should not be allowed to be expressed. Gay marriage is not a matter of opinion, like the role of government or even whether Tom Brady knew about Deflategate. It is a matter of civil rights, and the Supreme Court changed this into law only a few short months ago. Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinions. However, you are no longer entitled to express those beliefs when they, intentionally or unintentionally, create an exclusionary space.
Did you ever think about while you might not feel accepted when expressing your disapproval for gay marriage, how those of the LGBTQIA community may feel when you express a sentiment that undermines their basic rights? I am glad to hear that it is harder to express these discriminatory attitudes. It means that Davidson has become a more inclusive place, at least on issues of sexuality. I do not see the freedom to express discriminatory opinions as more important than making everyone on our campus feel welcomed, included, and safe.
There is a complex interplay between freedom of expression and creating an inclusive environment. People should feel comfortable expressing diverse and dissimilar opinions; as such a dialogue can create a rich campus culture of inclusivity. It is through this dialogue, which can sometimes be uncomfortable, that learning is achieved. However, your freedom of expression ends where others’ personal rights to security, both physical and emotional, begin.
It is unacceptable that students are excluded-discriminated against-based on who they are. It is also unacceptable that within certain spaces here on campus, it hard to express conservative views. However, there is a difference between holding conservative political opinions and to holding discriminatory views that make other students feel unwelcome. We can argue about Obamacare or government intervention in the financial industry all day, if you want to, but we cannot express opinions that create an environment that intentionally make certain populations feel unwelcome or subordinate.
I was upset that you wrote an article about inclusivity at Davidson without once mentioning major ways that students continue to experience exclusion here on campus, such as race or gender or socioeconomic status or sexuality. By completely sidestepping these issues and instead focusing solely on political inclusivity, you demonstrate your privilege.
Emily Taylor `16 is a History major from Greenville, South Carolina. Contact her at email@example.com.