Opinion: Respect is a two-way street

Jessica Kukura

An article graced the front the of The Kent Stater on April 19 titled “Right-leaning students feel unheard in wake of Republican presidency.”

As a politically-minded student and vice president of the Kent State College Democrats, I was interested in reading from an alternative perspective — an ideal I value.

I fully agree with the concept of free-flowing ideas and the exchange of opinions. There is a great deal of worth that can be extracted from listening, even when you don’t agree.

Many times, I’ve found middle ground can be reached, and if not, then a level of understanding can be achieved. In order to gain a worldly perspective, one must be willing to research all sides of an argument.  

The article began by stating occurrences that had been experienced by Kaitlin Bennett. She reported to the The Kent Stater that she had quotes wiped from her whiteboard outside her dorm and saw her Facebook posts circulating Twitter.

As a left-leaning student, I have experienced some of the same scenarios.  

Last year while in the dorms, I placed a number of political sticky notes on my whiteboard, which I would many times find ripped up or stolen — but I wasn’t offended.

I realized by putting my political beliefs in a public space, it would be subject to disagreement.

Additionally, I have received multiple hostile replies to various tweets I’ve written, and I’m also not offended by this.

By choosing to publicly voice my political opinions, I also chose to freely allow the agreement — or disagreement — of my indicated credence. Free speech is a cyclic notion; you must accept that while you have the ability to freely express your opinions, so do others.

Although this exchange is most productive when done respectfully — a concept I encourage — that is not always the case.

Further, the article goes on to quote Ryan Claassen, who labels liberals as people who are “not as well established professionally, they have less money, they are going through education, they may have a greater need for government assistance than they do in their middle, professional life.”

Later in the article, Colten Dalton is quoted saying, “people see conservatives as white people who all think the same way.”

If you wish not to be generalized by your party, you must not generalize people in the other as Claassen did.

If you preach respect and the free flow of ideas, sometimes you must be willing to make the first step while avoiding contradiction.

Respect is a two-way street.

Bennett states later in the article that “(Liberals) will resort to insults and profanities when I want to have a conversation.”

A few sentences away, Bennett is also quoted, saying, “She was halfway out of her car screaming, ‘I love abortion. I love Planned Parenthood,’ like that’s a pretty nasty thing to say.”

First off, to again group liberals into one category of insult and profanity-driven oracles is an avenue of generalization, a concept that Dalton is quoted speaking out against.

Additionally, the labeling of “car screamers” as “nasty” is an insult — something Bennett is quoted saying liberals shouldn’t resort to.

Respect is a two-way street.

If an open dialogue is to persist on campus and throughout the nation, we must be willing to listen to each other when we don’t agree.

Put preconceptions aside and be willing to gain new perspectives.

If this is the change for which you’re looking, then you must be willing to make the first step. You must be willing to accept criticism and respect others.

Change and resilience isn’t negated by followers, but rather leaders.

Jessica Kukura is vice president of the College Democrats, contact her at [email protected]