Whose tolerance is it anyway

by Ross Middleton / Beacon Correspondent • September 3, 2014

Many people see Emerson as a school that is tolerant of all walks of life. However, this tolerance does not always extend past the viewpoints the majority agrees with.

It’s safe to say that at Emerson, a majority of students support a left-leaning ideology. Though our campus is no longer in the top spot, Emerson is still ranked highly on the Princeton Review’s list of top LGBTQ friendly colleges. In the same survey, Emerson students were also noted for their disinterest in sports and lack of religious affiliations.

While there is not necessarily anything wrong with liberalism, the majority that follows this ideology often leave the campus’s minority populations—conservatives, religious people, athletes—without a discernible voice. In a school that prides itself on being accepting of everyone—including members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, and #soemerson oddballs of all shapes and sizes—we should give the same courtesies to those who simply have different views.

In my time at the Boston campus, I’ve seen some examples of this intolerance—which is not active hatred, but a passive dismissal—on the Emerson Confessional Facebook page. Recently, a girl posted she was scared to “come out” as Catholic because she worried no one would talk to her if she did. Why should she have to be afraid? In a college so tied to an identity of inclusivity regardless of sexuality or gender, this incoming freshman shouldn’t have to feel petrified of not fitting in because of her religion.

This intolerance manifests itself in discreet ways, and some viewpoints are simply ignored. For example, athletic competitions have a notoriously low turnout rate. Religious points of view are rarely accepted in classroom discussions, and conservative opinions even less so. Members of minority political parties at Emerson have little choice but to keep with their own.

Sometimes these campus cultural minorities are attacked, to the detriment of our entire community. For example, at a floor viewing party of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, I saw a girl crying in an elevator of the Little Building. She explained to me that a group of people mocked and yelled at her simply because she voted for Mitt Romney.

Aren’t we supposed to be better than this? If we’re going to be adults, we have to learn how to accept different opinions without immediately dismissing or rejecting them. We should examine all perspectives, especially our own, and remove bias and hate from our community.

We may say we are a tolerant campus, but tolerance does not mean accepting only the views of the people that we feel comfortable liking. It means that we must consider positions other than our own. Many Emerson students may believe we are open-minded, but those who have been silenced may say otherwise. Rather than rejecting other opinions, we should accept them and try to accommodate the people who have been disenfranchised by the culture of our school.

Without freedom of expression and thought, we would live in a separated society where people will have to blend in rather than be who they are. And to live without a true sense of identity is to not live at all.