This week has been particularly trying for some, if not for the fact that midterms are rapidly approaching and the pandemic bears no end in sight, then because of the chaos on Youngstown State University’s campus.
On Monday and Tuesday, protesters stood outside various heavily trafficked areas of campus with signs promoting hate, damnation and ignorance. An anti-abortion group gaurded signs bearing grisly images of dismembered fetuses, proffering a group protesting vaccine mandates across camps that compared mask requirements to tyranny and coercion and expressing concerns about unknown consequences. A group stood near the beloved campus Rock, declaring that women should be submissive and that homosexuality is an ultimate sin.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, as this is what makes everyone unique and contributes to greater discussions. But no one is entitled to harm others with their opinions by way of graphic images, denial of scientific facts or discriminatory rhetoric.
Students come to YSU to learn and grow, expand their horizons and open their eyes to the world around them. They come to learn about events, perspectives and experiences beyond their own so that they may learn how to improve the world. They don’t come to argue their newfound understanding of the world with individuals who may never change their minds. They don’t come to have graphic images imprinted on their minds, their health put at risk or their very existence discriminated against.
In a brief glimpse of companionship in these heated times, between the debates, numerous Penguins took to the Youngstown Campus App warning others that these atrocities were occurring and to avoid campus that day if it would cause them emotional trauma. They warned those who had to face the tough decision of an abortion to avoid the signs that would shove the guilt right in their face. Others took to posting photos of their animals in an attempt to bring just a little happiness to those who are struggling. Many shared information regarding Women’s March, offering group support for those who had to witness late events and providing them with a way of voicing their own opinions on the matter.
While we at The Jambar are all strong supporters of freedom of speech, it begs the question of where the line should be drawn when speech is harmful to others.
There’s no easy answer when it comes to dealing with these kinds of situations. The best we can do is hold true to ourselves and what we know to be fair and right, and we can hope that someday our antagonizers will come to a new understanding.