Students express political ideologies on campus

Rachel Stevenson

Ricky Lovell, a Kent State junior integrated social studies major, said he has multiple “Love Trumps Hate” signs hanging from his window in McDowell Hall.

Lovell has seen students in the halls express their political ideologies in many different ways — from writing on white boards to attending hall-sponsored events or campus debates. While he said he feels the halls are inclusive and promote expression of diverse opinions, he said students must be aware of the opinions of others and promote a safe and open environment for the expression of ideas.

“It’s important that (you feel safe around) those people you actually live with,” he said. “What you say has power to it, and a lot of times there’s unintended consequences that we ignore. And those lead to people not feeling safe.”

While Residence Services promotes free expression in the halls, students and faculty voice the importance of inclusivity of ideas and diverse viewpoints with the 2016 presidential election less than a week away.

Meghan Miller, the residence hall director for Stopher and Johnson Halls, said she is excited to see students express their political opinions, but finds it important to ensure students are not attacking one another for differences in their political ideologies.

“We want students to feel safe so if there is something that’s derogatory toward a group of students, and if it’s a biased incident, we’re going to have conversations,” she said. “That way students can see things from multiple points of view.”

Miller said solicitation in residence halls is not permitted; However, students can seek approval to have signs and fliers posted by residence assistants throughout the hall.

Lovell said creating a safe environment where diverse opinions can be shared and discussed is important to bringing about change both on campus and at a national level.

“A lot of times we are afraid of conflict, but we have to engage in those dialects to have real change,” he said. “If we only talk to people who agree with us, then we’re never going to challenge any thought process.”

Steve Yurek, a junior sports administration major who has lived on campus for three years, said he generally refrains from expressing himself politically in the halls as a way to stay unbiased and view multiple perspectives on the upcoming election.

He said he feels living in the halls has allowed him to open up to human differences due to their inclusivity.

“Residence Services, from my experiences, has been open and inclusive to all ideas —not just political, but overall,” he said. “I think it’s incredibly important to realize every person has a human difference, and everyone isn’t the same.”

Lovell said differences in ideologies makes campus diverse. He said he believes students can learn to work together politically by respecting and accepting the ideologies of others.

“Students do a great job of getting actively involved and invested. It’s a matter of taking the ideologies they have and are willing to express and mobilizing those into action,” he said.

Lovell said he has seen many students be vocal about their viewpoints toward the upcoming elections. He also believes some political expression on campus could, however, cause students to feel uncomfortable in certain instances.

“When you walk by Prentice, they have all those Trump signs on the windows. To me, that whole campaign stands for discrimination,” he said. “When I see that, I naturally don’t feel as safe.”

Lovell believes the nature of this election and its strong emphasis on social issues could cause students to feel less confident in expressing views different from their peers in the residence halls.

However, Yurek said differences in opinion are important to learn more about your own ideologies and where you stand on the issues during this election.

“People have their own views, and for me as a person who likes politics, I’m going to respect everybody’s views and have an open and engaging conversation because I can learn something new from talking to someone else,” he said.

Lovell said regardless of the side students support and how students choose to express their political beliefs, the one element of this election students can rally behind is the need to vote.

“No matter what side you stand on politically, the biggest thing people will tell you to do is vote,” he said. “That’s one thing we can all rally behind.”

Rachel Stevenson is the residence halls reporter, contact her at [email protected]