When I chat with prospective students and their parents in the Office of Admissions, parents often ask how students on campus handle controversial issues or views; whether our student body is open to conversation. When answering this question, I typically start off by emphasizing Providence College’s Catholic values and how some students hold certain views and values that align with the Church. Yet, I finish by explaining how PC students are open to having conversations rather than petty arguments.
I genuinely believe this—it is not something that the Office of Admissions tells us to say. However, there are moments on campus where I feel as though some students—regardless of their personal beliefs—choose to handle situations in a way that makes me second-guess the positive answer I give to parents of prospective students in the Office of Admissions.
Are we truly open to conversation? Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, regardless of whether you personally believe or support it. Thus, everyone has the right to be treated with respect when expressing their values. Although we are college students who make silly mistakes, we are also adults who should handle more touchy situations in a mature and considerate fashion.
While some students may believe that they are making a sly or comedic comment in response to someone expressing their beliefs, it can oftentimes come off immature. Rather than making insolent remarks, why don’t we encourage conversation? You don’t have to agree with the person, just show them that you’re willing to hear their side of the argument.
Our world today is divided for a laundry list of reasons, so why should we encourage hostility on campus? You do not have to accept what others believe in, but you do need to simply respect them. And, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).