Opinion | University students should be open-minded


Photo courtesy of Illini Republicans Instagram

Members of the Illini Republicans speak with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions at Gregory Hall on Feb. 1. Senior columnist Noah Nelson argues that students should be more neutral when it comes to politics.

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

Not only do many of us attend college for higher education, but we also hope to expand our worldview. As we immerse ourselves in college life, we come in contact with various walks of life and cultures.

We must not be afraid of these new sights and sounds. We should be open-minded on campus with whatever comes our way, including the political scene.

On Feb. 1, Illini Republicans and Young America’s Foundation hosted former Senator and United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to give a keynote address followed by a question and answer portion. Days before the event began, extensive backlash took place across campus.

The Illinois Student Government passed a resolution condemning Sessions’ visit, seeking to convince the two host groups to move the event off campus. In response to this, Illini Republicans said the student government’s actions showed it doesn’t “support diversity of thought on campus.”

I will be the first to say I am not a political person. I don’t lean toward one side of the aisle or the other. I like driving along the middle lane.

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With that, I attended the event with only the intention to hear a politician speak about his life and work, hoping to expand my worldview and listen to the opinions of others.

I was not there to protest, nor was I there to clap at all of his comments. I attended as a neutral citizen with an open mind — something college students, especially here at the University, should take advantage of.

Throughout the event, Sessions discussed many interesting topics, including small-town values, his life as an Alabama politician, his time in the White House during the Trump administration and many current issues. Though quite a few protesters stormed out of the room at the beginning of the speech, the rest of the night was fascinating.

As I heard him speak, the gears in my mind began to grind. I did not think about what he was discussing, but rather I reflected on how we need to be a more open-minded campus.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” This “book judging” includes politics too. Even though most everyone has their ideologies and party alignments, they should give other parties and opinions a chance.

It’s an opportunity to experience how the other side thinks and acts. You may not care for it, but this opens your mind to other perspectives.

That’s much of the reason why we’re all at college. We want to experience new adventures and aspects of life. Politics shouldn’t be any different. Instead of loathing others who don’t have the same political party alignments as us, we should be welcoming them in with open arms. Inclusivity should be a part of our everyday lives.

At the end of the day, we’re all human. The sun will still shine tomorrow. And we shouldn’t hate our neighbor or peer’s views. Instead, we should welcome them and keep an open mind.

That’s what I did when I attended Sessions’ event. That’s what we all should do in our daily lives. It may just make the world an even better place to live.

Noah is a senior in Media.

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