Renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden spoke to the Tulane community in an event hosted by Tulane University Campus Programming on Monday. Since releasing classified National Security Agency documents to journalists in 2013, Snowden has become a figure of controversy, championed as a hero by some and condemned as a traitor by others.
Whether or not students support Snowden’s actions, TUCP’s decision to host the event and community members’ willingness to listen is an important step toward fostering an open discourse at Tulane. It is vital that we, as a college community, actively engage in meaningful dialogue and protect students’ rights to hold and voice opinions that may put them in the minority.
College should be a place to debate, evaluate and often change our opinions when presented with new information. The range of expressed opinions on our campus, however, tends to be relatively uniform. Our campus culture often makes it seem like only a few opinions are acceptable and that anyone who believes something else must not only be wrong but also immoral.
Last week, The Hullabaloo published an article examining the sense of alienation felt by some students who hold political views that put them in the minority on campus. Students said these feelings are not restricted to students on the right of the political spectrum, but also those of other ideologies, including those farther left than the campus’s center-left partisan Democratic consensus.
As students, we must be self-critical in questioning our beliefs and the assumptions that underlie them, especially when this proves inconvenient, as in the case of Snowden. Attending a school like Tulane provides us with the opportunity to engage in conversations with students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, be they ideological, national, ethnic, religious, etc. Many of our classmates will disagree with us passionately about important issues, but it is through this kind of respectful, constructive dialogue that we grow.
We recognize, of course, that certain opinions are not just different but are in fact deeply intolerant, and as such, they further marginalize vulnerable groups on our campus and in our country. Such views that deny the inherent dignity and worth of our fellow human beings on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or immigration status have no place in a free and open society. We would be incredibly naive, however, to think that all of those who feel alienated on our campus on account of ideological differences are simply bigoted for expressing views outside the mainstream.
The Hullabaloo recognizes its role in improving our current climate and is seeking to become more inclusive to differing points of view. The limited ideological diversity of The Hullabaloo’s staff reflects the lack of writers willing to publicly express their opinions. We are calling on students off all ideological backgrounds — left or right, moderate or radical — to take a stand and voice their opinions, both in our pages and elsewhere. Silence is the enemy of the truth.
If you want to join the discourse and express your opinion in The Tulane Hullabaloo, contact [email protected] or visit https://tulanehullabaloo.com/join-the-hullabaloo/. You can also write and submit a letter to the editor to [email protected].
Staff Editorials are written weekly by members of the Tulane Hullabaloo Board and approved by the full Board by a 2/3 majority vote.