Say ‘yes’ on the Main Quad

By Samuel Kottoor, Columnist

I’m sure there are many situations where a “no” would bode well for you on the Main Quad. However, let’s discuss the word that gives entrance to new opportunities: “yes.” In saying yes you can open your mind up to new possibilities in life, especially on campus.

One of the most prominent attributes of the Main Quad is that it’s a prime venue of the people’s voice; it’s a gathering place for our freedom of speech as American citizens. With this comes the multitude of organizations, from far and mainly near, that want to sway, inform or recruit you. This should be no surprise to you if you are a student here, because chances are you have been handed a flyer about a club’s fundraiser, offered a clipboard to rally behind a petition or even given a pamphlet that kindly informed you that you will end up in hell.

I personally love to witness all of these survey-givers and club-recruiters who liven up the Main Quad. Not only does it truly enrich the environment that delivers me from home to class and class to home, but it also provides me with another opportunity — one that I believe more of you should try. It gives me the opportunity to say “yes.”

Let me elaborate. Standard procedure for a bulk of the pedestrians on campus is to walk clean past the informant without acknowledging him or her, or to politely nod at the informant and continue onward. Or, best yet, take whatever flyer they’re handed only to play the fun-for-the-whole-family game: Where’s the nearest trash can?

Here is what I suggest instead.

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When I do have the time, and I am approached by said informants, one of my favorite things to do is to full-on engage with them, especially when their goal is to sway my opinion.

Standard procedure for me entails: a) introducing myself, b) receiving the flyer or asking them more about their organization, c) politely telling the person why I either agree, disagree, or more often than not, why I can totally see both sides, d) engaging in a not-so-small-talk conversation and e) hurrying to the class I’m now late for.

You can largely benefit from following this procedure. You can meet a new person, play a fun survey game and win a prize or even get a free pen. Participating in whatever the informant has ready for you can be a fun way to spice up your day.

However, the greatest benefit of this routine is the opportunity to engage in a higher level of discussion, which is difficult to come across these days considering most people just want to inform you of how belligerent they were the night before.

Discussions of these hot topics can be incredibly stimulating and interesting, as I’m sure you’re aware. It’s so important to not only know where you stand on an issue, but also to be open to having your views challenged and to engage in a civil debate with another human person, whose life experiences have led them to have different opinions and beliefs than you.

Conversations like these help you to be better able to defend your beliefs, and more importantly, they can be eye-opening experiences that allow you to better understand the opinions of the person right in front of you.

Samuel is a junior in Engineering. 

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