In 2022, politics has found a way to seep into nearly every aspect of our society.
Whether or not we’ve chosen to acknowledge it, politics have a pervasive presence in college classrooms.
It only does a disservice when professors, who hold positions of authority over their students, express their personal political opinions in a way that makes students uncomfortable, shames those who disagree and provides a biased presentation of opinions that are laid down as incontrovertible truth.
It is true that balanced, mature dialogue is needed, but there are appropriate channels and settings for such discourse.
Certain events on campus, such as Pastries and Politics, are excellent opportunities for political discourse between Democrats and Republicans.
It’s also important to acknowledge that there are certain classes, such as political science, government or law that have an obligation to engage in political dialogue, but in these classroom settings, professors should offer a balanced perspective that highlights all facets and caveats.
This is political, of course, but not a promulgation of a professor’s personal opinions.
With the midterm election creeping up, tensions are high and controversial issuesdominate advertisements on the television and YouTube, but it is not the role of a professor to share his or her opinion on hotly contested issues.
Abortion is one of those issues, and while it’s on the ballot this November, it is not a professor’s role to be the judge and jury.
Not everyone shares the same view on abortion, so when professors play politics, they win the approval of some students while ostracizing others.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a terrible issue if professors didn’t possess such high degrees of authority over students.
Because of their status as authority figures, those students who disagree with the dogmatic dialogue of professors who get too political in the classroom often feel that their views are wrong or unacceptable.
Some students even fear being penalized with a lower grade if they end up on their professor’s bad side for daring to have or voice an opinion that deviates from the dominant classroom narrative.
There are some who claim that professors have every right to share their political opinions in the classroom, arguing that it encourages debate and dialogue among students, but in an age when safe spaces and inclusivity are deemed essential to all classroom environments, it goes without saying that classrooms are not safe spaces when professors lecture their students about their personal political opinions in ways that marginalize those who dare to dissent.
How would the liberal-leaning student feel if a professor hammered away at why she was pro-life? How would the conservative student feel listening to a liberal professor label all Trump supporters anti-immigrant? Does this create a safe, inclusive classroom environment for all students?
I’ve discovered that many people support politics in the classroom until they have a professor who shares a view that goes against their political gospel.
The moment they experience ostracism for themselves as a member of the political minority of a professor’s classroom is the moment they realize that politics is a messy creature that doesn’t bode well in college classrooms.
That creature must be tamed so as not to run wild across our college campuses in a way that is harmful, unhealthy and unproductive for our students and staff.
Keeping controversial, partisan political opinions out of classroom lectures and saving them for balanced debate is the best way for universities to stay true to their commitment to safe, inclusive environments while also creating a campus community that values balanced civic engagement.