Editor’s note: This post was updated on Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. to update the headline to the print version of this staff editorial in our Feb. 14 print issue.
Our View is a staff editorial produced collaboratively by the entire Rocket Staff. Any views expressed in the editorial are the opinions of the entire staff.
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With nine months left before Americans vote to decide if President Donald Trump will serve a second term or if a democratic opponent will move in the Oval Office, the effects of political polarization are apparent, even on SRU’s campus.
Last week, two posters from the College Republicans were found vandalized in Spotts World Culture Building. As SRU President William Behre said his email to the university, “When you have [10,000] people in a close proximity, there is always someone who believes that the basic rules of civility and respect do not apply to them.”
This political polarization has shifted public attitudes concerning President Trump, trust in government and trust in news media, according to the Pew Research Center. In the months preceding this election, especially after Trump’s impeachment trial, civil discourse across the country has been on the decline, and this incident in our own backyard contributes to that division by political party.
Of course, we don’t know who defaced this flyer and the chances are that we will never find out who contributed to further divide us by party on campus. However, we can recognize that politics will be at the heart of many conversations we have on campus and social media in the upcoming months.
During the time of elections, preliminary debates and caucuses, political uncertainty and disdain towards specific parties and politicians are at a high rise. With all sides wanting to voice their strong opinions and persuade others that their ideology is ideal, we lack respect and civility, the fundamentals of productive civil discourse.
It’s during this time that all sides—democratic, republican and anyone who falls in the middle—need to use this opportunity to create settings for respectful civil discourse and discussion.
No matter how many times we were told to avoid talking about politics and evade taboo conversations, it’s time to be prepared for these conversations to unify and talk about differing perspectives, not argue and continue to divide the nation by party.
At SRU, one option is to contribute to our opinion section with your thoughts. As the student-run newspaper, we serve as a public forum for you.
For The Rocket, we will continue our coverage of political student organizations on campus, mainly the College Republicans and Young Progressives. When we get closer to the November election, we will add to this conversation by endorsing our ideal candidate in our opinion section.
The Rocket won’t stop covering these hard-hitting, controversal issues; in fact, in these historical moments, we rise in our coverage.
After we publish our news and opinion pieces, you have your opportunity to engage in civil discourse.
By educating yourself and becoming part of discussions, not debates or arguments, you are creating opportunties for productive conversations. This means not going into conversations with the intent of proving a point or the assumption that you know all sides of an issue.
Every chance to talk about issues on the campus, nation and world is a chance for productive civil discourse, but only when the intent is to learn and be more knowledgeable, not assume and degrade.
In the case of the College Republican flyers, someone abused an opportunity to engage in a productive discussion. As President Behre said in his email, this will most likely not be the last incident of this kind on campus. However, now is the time to discover effective ways to continuously participate in civil discourse in casual conversations, classes and social media.
No matter how heated the current political scene gets, we must maintain a basic level of human respect toward each other. Without that, we can’t accomplish anything when we cannot hear a new side of an issue.
While we might not like or agree with the opposite political party, we are all in this together, and cooperation between parties is paramount in this day and age.