Does your voice matter: RMC campus provides safe environment for free expression, editorial by Layout Editor Iris Pacheco

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IMG_5427Do members of society classify you primarily because your views and opinions are different from theirs? Do you feel safe speaking your opinion in class, at work, or to your friend at the mall? Are you scared that people will harass you because you’re different? In my experience, I’ve found that a way to reduce stereotyping is to talk to people. Go into a conversation with an open mind, knowing that the person you’re talking to might have a completely different view than yours. Instead of getting mad or ultimately walking away from a difficult conversation, take a deep breath and ask questions. Try to understand the other person’s point of view before any judgements or stereotypes are made. Don’t limit people. This type of communication, with those who are close to you or just casual acquaintances, can help build a stronger understanding of who the other person really is.

Here at Rocky Mountain College, voicing your opinion is very important and absolutely encouraged. RMC is a great place to voice these opinions, especially in the classroom where free expression and civil debate can take place. In an email to The Summit, President Bob Wilmouth said that while it may be difficult to talk about controversial issues, we must remember that “reasoned and civil debate of any subject is one of the highest values of higher education.”

As a part of RMC’s attempt to encourage students to voice any issues or concerns, RMC holds “Coffee and Conversation” and “Stand Up RMC.” Coffee and Conversation is held every other Tuesday at 6pm in Fraley Lounge where often controversial topics are talked about among students, staff, and community members. Stand Up RMC provides students with activities that raise awareness about social issues that impact the campus community. The organization encourages thoughtful and positive decision making. SAS advisor, Taisha Rocha, said “the importance of communication between students and staff was presented as a key component. If there are any students looking to ght for changes a great place to start would be ASRMC, Rocky Mountain College’s student government.”

Throughout our college experience, knowing there is a safe environment to grow and develop physically, mentally, and emotionally as individuals is encouraging. We all need to remember that there is no place for hate speech in a college atmosphere. Everyone’s opinions need to be heard. President Wilmouth encourages free expression of opinion on RMC’s campus. Wilmouth said, “free expression of opinion is built into our policies, and the cornerstone of that policy is the one regarding academic freedom, which protects the rights of those who express reasoned opinion even about very controversial subjects.”

When speaking about controversial subjects, a freshman student that was interviewed stated, “I do believe Rocky Mountain College is a safe place for individuals to speak their opinions.” This freshman also stated that since RMC is a small campus, the students think that their peers are supportive of each other and of people’s opinions.

Rocha, a former RMC student, agreed. “Yes, Rocky Mountain College is a safe place.” Rocha said, “There are always going to be people who are rude, degrading and so forth, but most people want to at least listen or understand a point of view. That is why we are in higher education, we want to be educated about the world, not just speak out of ignorance. Rocky is a great place to be, and I believe it is becoming more cultured all the time.”

So, your opinion matters and make it heard. Next time you know the answer in class or see an issue in a different light from those around you, speak up, we are listening. Yell your opinion from roof tops or write down in your secret journal but know that your voice is very powerful and can change the world. If you want to share your thoughts on a certain subject or write about something you think is interesting, consider contributing to The Summit, RMC’s student paper.

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