Speak Up: Why Students Should Voice Their Own Opinions

Carlos Villamayor, Editor in Chief

One of the landmarks of the college experience is intellectual activity and inquiry. Indeed, ever since its inception back in the Middle Ages when the church developed the first universities, students were expected to argue the different sides to a question, and special emphasis was given to reason, logic, and argument.

Nowadays we regularly hear talk about college being the time to learn to think for yourself, but modernity has put this idea in jeopardy.

Sadly, the idea of a college education is often degraded to a mere transaction for a diploma that allows young people to start a career. This degraded notion leads students to regard classes as obstacles to be finished with: get a good grade, and move on.

Such an attitude conflicts with the idea of intellectual activity and inquiry, since students will often keep quiet or go along with a professor’s argument or perceived point of view to avoid conflict, stay on good terms with the professor, and get that much-desired A.

Following the view of classes as transactions for good grades leads some students to withhold their opinions if they disagree with something a professor is saying, and thus opportunities to develop well-formed argument and have constructive discussions are lost.

I have heard students who said they wrote an essay on a topic just because they thought the professor may like the topic or agree with them. During class, one student told another not to argue with the professor and just “go with the flow.” Another time I heard someone say something along the lines of, “well you know what the professor thinks about this, so I said nothing.”

We are left with intellectual laziness.

People, and especially students, need to think, and part of thinking is reasoning and constructing arguments.

Classes should not be seen as mere transactions or steps on our way to a diploma, they should be opportunities to exercise our minds, reflect, acquire knowledge, and, yes, skills; but whatever skill it is you want to develop, you need to be a good thinker.

Don’t limit yourself to classes in your discipline, take advantage of Pace’s course diversity, both here and in the Manhattan campus.

This is the time for us to take classes that will make us well-rounded individuals; classes that will broaden our intellectual, and physical, horizons; as well as classes that might teach us a thing or two about the world and its history, so we might become better judges and reformers of our current conditions.