Column: The art of being a college activist

The UA is home to thousands of amazing students from all over the world. This diverse group also has strong activist tendencies, but with so many different opinions, it’s easy to get lost.

People flock to our school because of the academics, the student life and, of course, our weather. These, however, are not the only reasons why people love the UA. Many people love and respect our school because of the endless amount of diversity that thrives on campus.

Every day, as we walk to class, we are surrounded with Republicans, Democrats, theists, atheists, tall people, short people, young people, older people, people who like the color blue and people who do not.

Everyone is represented on campus, in one way or another.

As one progresses through their college career, they will find themselves rubbing elbows with amazing, interesting people who have lived lives that are completely different to their own.

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The fact that we are able to attend a school where diversity is embraced is awesome, and it’s a luxury not many people get to enjoy. We learn to love people and their differences, always respecting each other because of our mutual love and respect for our school.

The UA is like a delicious salad, composed of many individual and different parts that come together to form a perfect union.

However, just because we all attend the same school doesn’t mean that we might all agree on the same things. The salad might be great as a whole, but one individual piece of lettuce does not taste the same as the entire mix of ingredients.

Being diverse means having differences. No two people have the same opinion, regardless of how similar they are to one another. Opinions vary individually.

How does one handle being extremely opinionated or passionate about a certain topic without enraging someone else? Should we not care about hurting each other’s feelings for the sake of our cause? Is there a way to be both opinionated and respectful?

Being an activist in college can be an extremely frustrating position to be in. It’s hard to be respectful of everyone while trying to share your specific opinion or belief.

Everything we mutter out loud can be misinterpreted, especially if we fail to intelligently present ideas. If you’re willing to debate or argue about a certain topic, you must be willing to do so intelligently and without resorting to insults and jabs.

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Of course, there will be many people who may believe they don’t care if they receive negative retaliation. There are people who are willing to do and say whatever it takes to establish and support their cause, without regard for what others think. These people are failing to understand the many reasons colleges and universities exist around the world:

Sure, these institutions exist to educate, but they also exist to get people connected and comfortable around others. If you don’t care what bridges you have to burn in order to support your cause, then you’re not able to fully connect yourself with the many people and resources a university or college has to offer.

We live in a world where respecting each other is a necessity. Although we see endless examples of people tearing each other to shreds in the media, we must always understand that part of attending college means gaining the ability to work with others without making them uncomfortable or forcing your ideas or beliefs onto them.

College prepares us for the real world. Once we move on and out of this campus, we will be expected to interact with people who may have drastically different ideas and opinions than us. We must, as educated citizens of the world, never treat each other with disrespect.

College is about learning to share your thoughts in academic and intellectual ways—not by insulting each other. The best way activists can rightfully express themselves and emphasize their validity is by presenting civil and educated arguments. An activist that’s rowdy and doesn’t understand what they’re trying to do causes noise without substance.


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