The elephant in the room

Although many of Emerson’s core values are fundamental to the college’s existence, it is hard to believe that “diversity of perspective” is a top priority.,The Emerson College Mission Statement states that our education is based on a set of core values, including “diversity of perspective.”

Although many of Emerson’s core values are fundamental to the college’s existence, it is hard to believe that “diversity of perspective” is a top priority.

As a political minority on this campus, I find it disconcerting that many students here do not grasp what that concept really means. Unfortunately, it is clear that some of the professors at this school barely understand it as well.

In an opinion column I wrote for The Beacon on April 8, 2004, I argued that professors should leave their personal politics outside of the classroom, as not to influence class discussions. Students should have a chance to argue without feeling susceptible to groupthink.

Unfortunately, the idea of groupthink continues to pervade Emerson College. The lack of “diversity of perspective” is the greatest disappointment I have faced in my four years here.

In May, when I accept my diploma at graduation, I will regret that many faculty and students were not open-minded enough to even listen to people with viewpoints different from their own.

During my time here, I attended a State of the Union Address screening in the dorms where few people could even hear what President George W. Bush was saying-most of his speech was drowned out by people mocking the president and yelling at the TV.

I watched a Bush press conference in a media class where the same thing happened. The difference was that after the press conference, one of the few Republicans in the class said that she was so disappointed with the President that she was going to vote for John Kerry instead.

The Democrats in the class applauded that statement-people thought it was great that they were finally all on the same page. I have also been attacked by numerous insults, the worst of which I found on my bulletin board, calling me a “fascist.”

Ultimately, all of these situations have created an atmosphere that does not thrive on diversity of perspective-it thrives on conformity.

I am not the only one who has noticed these groupthink ideals, either. One of my fellow resident assistants told me that she once held a housing program where she screened Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine followed by Michael Moore Hates America. Five people attended the first screening but only two remained for the second film.

Why? They felt that the second movie “sounded negative.” Evidently those students did not liken Moore’s filmed rant to something negative.

The dangers that are predominant in these situations will continue until people are more open to listening to other people’s perspectives. There are conservatives at this school and the fact that so few of them want to speak out says something about our school’s “diversity of perspective.”

We must not allow our current environment to continue thriving at this college.

The dangers of groupthink are immeasurable, irrevocable and inconceivable. This is not a partisan issue. This is a diversity issue. If we cannot listen to each other and learn to value our individual perspectives then this college, and its students, are bound for groupthink inferiority rather than open-minded prosperity.

John Hanlon is a senior organizational and political communication major and a contributer to The Beacon. He is also Press Secretary of the SGA, though the views expressed above are not in any way associated with that organization.