By Christina Galdi
As my last semester carries on, I’m left with some time to reflect on what I’ve been exposed to during my college career, things I wasn’t used to seeing in my hometown.
I have been able to meet people with different opinions, religious beliefs, eating habits and values. While this journey has mostly been enlightening, it has been met with some dark areas, too.
KU students are not strangers to the people with signs and bibles that pitch outside of the Academic Forum a few times per semester. They stand in front of the steps declaring that God is our salvation and how students need to accept his ever-loving presence into their hearts.
Many students ogle at the skeptical, some ignore their presence and other students participate in these sermons, not always in a pleasant manor.
Attending a liberal arts college like KU, we are sending a message that all ideas and beliefs are to be listened to and accepted. However, how far are we supposed to take that ideology?
While our generation is known for tolerance and bridging gaps, we are also known for not accepting closed-minded views. Some of the “religious protesters,” a common name given to them by KU students, come to the university to deliver their message in a neutral tone, sometimes stopping to have a friendly chat with a curious student.
However, there have been times when the discussions get heated and students are often patronized for having different opinions or for challenging the opinions of the “protesters.” We are told that we are wrong and unintelligent (ironic given that we are being told this on a college campus,) and the conversation is no longer worth having.
There have been few occasions where our diverse community becomes the target. Some of the preachers have been known to openly gay-bash the students, condemning them for who they choose to love, which means that the students who don’t fit into the perfect mold that these people preach about are suddenly cast into the “other” category.
Another situation involved these people preaching an anti-abortion agenda, telling students that having an abortion is murder and that they will be condemned. While that may be the views of these people, and it is their right to preach their beliefs, we still need to call into question these practices.
College campuses consist of a diverse group of people who are facing their own struggles. There could be a person overcoming an abortion, or someone who is dealing with their sexuality or gender identity. These could very well trigger individuals going through that and make them feel unsafe on their own campus.
No one is arguing that these religious protesters don’t have a right to speak their truth. That’s what going to a liberal arts college teaches its students.
On the contrary, it is our right as students to challenge these beliefs and speak our truth. Safe spaces are
important, and creating an inclusive environment for all people is a huge component of college life.
It’s true that everyone has the right to their beliefs. However, when people start getting condemned to hell for having different lifestyles, that is the time to reevaluate what it means to be tolerant on a college campus.