Our view: Chill out, professors

Stater editors

A professor at a Georgia college recently banned and penalized his students from saying “bless you” in class, considering anything similar a disruption of his teaching. As students are heading back to school, both at Kent State and elsewhere, they might face similar, unreasonable rules. For some students those rules might seem absurd and in reality, an instructor asking you not to say “bless you” truly is unreasonable.

However, one might argue that we have come to expect from our professors and fellow classmates a certain level of understanding and acceptance of different cultural traditions, clothing styles or reliance on technology. Not having to see the boxer shorts of the person in front of you is not unreasonable. Asking an international student to repeat a phrase in broken English for clarification is not unreasonable. Asking students to not smoke close to or inside academic buildings is reasonable. Even asking students to turn off their smartphones or not use laptops in class is completely reasonable.

In our technology-savvy, culturally diverse and multitasking-saturated society, professors have to understand the culture of their students. For classes focused on using and understanding media, banning the access of YouTube videos for demonstration is unreasonable. A lecturer telling her students they cannot use the restroom during class time is unreasonable. A university with a ban on wearing hats that also applies to hajibs or turbans is unreasonable.

Banning the use of a phrase like “bless you” is akin to outlawing high-fives or the thumbs up gesture. It’s just as unreasonable to outlaw certain phrases in the Pledge of Allegiance. Being able to accept a custom or tradition is part of being a member of a diverse society, and banning phrases or clothing styles only hinders embracing that understanding. In the world of academics, professors should seek to understand the perspectives of students living in a changing, diverse and ever-more accepting society.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board.