The times, they are a’changin’

By Adam Quinn |

Last week the Crimson ran an article on the new pro-life organization recently started on campus, Students for Life of Samford University. As of this week, Students for Life of Samford University will join the ranks of similarly minded student organizations like Samford’s chapter of College Republicans arguing a politically conservative view. This view is echoed by socially conservative religious organizations like Reformed University Fellowship and Campus Outreach. On the other side of the debate stand Samford’s College Democrats and… and… Well, on the other side College Democrats pretty much stand alone.

For those of us who walked around the Student Organization Fair on Ben Brown at the beginning of the semester, it was easy to notice the disparity between the number of people arguing for each side. College Republicans boast 156 members on campus while College Democrats only list 50. Even compared to Alabama as a whole, this makes Samford dangerously partisan. Gallup reports 48% of Alabamians as Republicans and 34% as Democrats– a ratio of 4:3 instead of the Samford ratio of more than 3:1. Second, there is a large gap in the numbers of organizations themselves. Despite the numbers against them, there is a very active, vocal group of liberal and moderate students on campus. The only thing they are missing are recognized organizations to become involved in. Where is the Gay-Straight Alliance? Where are the Planned Parenthood representatives? Where is the Atheistic organization? If you think these groups do not exist on campus, look again. Ideological minorities can be hard to spot through a sea of Ralph Lauren polos.

Let me be clear, this article is not about abortion or who you should vote for in the upcoming election. I am not a member of College Democrats or College Republicans. It does seem to me, however, that Samford runs the risk of only hearing one side of these issues. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with arguing from a conservative position, but when do we lose the ability to choose between two different points of view and start parroting the only thing we have ever heard? For example, USA Today reports that several religious universities– including Baylor– have rejected student appeals to start a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance, a national atheistic college organization, merely on grounds of disagreement. Samford itself is well on its way to to being named one of the top 20 most unfriendly campuses toward LGBT students for the sixth year in a row by the Princeton Review. We do not hear these perspectives as often as we should because in many cases the social cost of voicing them is just too high. You may not get expelled for affirming homosexuality, but if it makes you a social outcast is it really any different?

How do we react to opposing views? Do we silence them out of fear or do we listen to them to hear what they have to offer? The purpose of a college education is not to reinforce opinion but to cause us to question why we believe the way we do. It is impossible to spend the rest of our lives surrounded only by people who think the same way we do– but then again, why would we want to?

UPDATE on 10/03/2012

Students for Life has not yet been recognized as an official Samford organization. For a full list of student organizations, visit www.samford.edu/campuslife.

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