Elizabethtown College prides itself on its diversity and acceptance of all students, staff and faculty no matter their religion, ethnicity or gender identity. Etown promotes equality on its campus and works hard to correct and protect against any form of discrimination or hate that may arise.
A recent example of this is the email sent out by President Strikewerda concerning the recent defacing of dorm doors and white boards in Schlosser. This email helps to not only remind the students that Etown has a strict policy against discrimination and will not tolerate such acts, but also that the College will always be there to protect and defend its students from blatant harassment or discrimination.
A welcoming campus is key to the success of any colleges or university, especially in a rapidly changing social sphere that has students becoming more and more aware of the world around them and consequently bringing that awareness, along with differing viewpoints and experiences, into the classroom setting.
We as a society have entered a world where opinions are no longer shut down because they may be offensive; everyone is validated in their argument and no one is wrong. This creates a very thin line for the College to tread as they move between proper censorship and complete opposition to the first Amendment.
Since the campus has to walk this thin line so do its students. This can leave some wondering where the line is drawn in regards to academic discussions. How far can a teacher or student go when discussing sexual assault, abuse, mental health or any other socially sensitive topics? And is any censorship or warnings of that conversation protecting its students, or is it prohibiting any sort of intellectual conversation to even begin?
Many colleges and universities seem to be in disagreeing with what constitutes too much and what is simply a part of the higher education atmosphere. Things like “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” have become buzz words with the media, sparking a national discussion on whether or not we as a society have suddenly become too politically correct.
The idea of being politically correct is problematic in and of itself, simply because no one can seem to agree on what exactly that means. Is it censoring words and ideas at the sacrifice of free speech? Or is it simply creating a way for students to be aware of those who may be marginalized or discriminated against by unintentional biases?
I believe Etown works hard to create a safe space for its students without too much controversy. While some may believe Etown to be too politically correct at times, one has to remember that this is a college campus. It is an institution which is kept running by returning and prospective students, so it makes sense that it would try its hardest to create that kind of space, which actively discourages any form of discrimination.
One of the ways Etown works to provide this kind of space is by allowing students to talk openly with faculty and other students, whether that be in a private or public setting, and discuss the College’s adherence to some basic form of political correctness.
Since it is important to listen not only to the students who agree with the College’s speech policy, this open discussion approach can allow students who may feel that the campus is being constrictive of their speech to voice their opinions as well.
A few years ago, censorship was the big issue at hand and there seems to be a subtle lead in to political correctness over the years because of it. This idea of ridding campuses of controversial material which is both socially relevant and a large part of life after college is not as new as we think.
Is Etown too politically correct? I honestly do not think so, but I know that there are students who do and their voices are just as valid as mine. It honestly comes down to what the College finds is appropriate for their students and it is then the students responsibility to talk to the College if they find that that decision may affect them negatively.