Atmosphere of tolerance on campus encouraged
CU’s student leaders will soon be taking on campus issues in a whole new way.
On Tuesday, CU’s Department of Student Affairs held a forum for CU’s student leaders entitled “Freedom of Speech and the CU Community: The Role of Student Leaders.” The heads of various student groups discussed how to encourage students to be more accepting of opposing viewpoints.
“We’ve got this talk-show mentality,” said Elease Robbins, CU’s dean of students and associate vice-chancellor of student affairs. “If I can shout louder than you that makes me right.”
The forum was a follow up on a similar forum titled “The Power of One” put on by Ron Stump, resigning vice chancellor for student affairs.
The student leaders spent most of their time discussing questions of how people of different backgrounds and situations can contribute to CU in a positive way and how student leaders can make sure campus events have a positive atmosphere.
“It’s about building a sense of community, knowing what student leaders bring to campus, how to put on events, that kind of thing,” said John Ali Sharza, a senior political science major and UCSU diversity director. “I would never have gotten to talk about my experiences without a setting like this.”
Medhat Ahmed, a fifth-year MCD biology and political science major who ran for Legislative Council on the Rise ticket last semester, said that he was disappointed that a number of student groups were absent from the event, including members of the Greek community such as the Interfraternity Council.
“We invited everyone; invitations were hand delivered to every office,” Ahmed said. “Some students just don’t care. We’ve got a lot of work to do, there were voices absent that need to be heard.”
Despite his concerns over the event’s attendance, Ahmed said that a follow-up on the forum would be a good idea.
“There should be a follow-up; dialogue is important,” Ahmed said.
For Sharza, the important thing is for the students who were present at the forum to take what they learned out to the campus with them.
“Student leaders need to take what they learned back into their communities,” Sharza said.
Robbins emphasized that while everyone on campus may not always agree with another, they can respect each other’s viewpoints.
“It’s not about having everyone agree,” Robbins said. “A university is a place where a variety of ideas and perspectives should exist. It’s important for people to experience that. Students are adults; they can decide whether that works for them or not.”
Robbins said that she believes that there will be a follow-up on the forum sometime this semester but that it’s up to the students to take charge.
“The students are in the driver’s seat,” she said. “We had some different faces here tonight, maybe they’ll invite others.”
Contact Campus Press Reporter Rob Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.