By Jacob Czech
[email protected]

In this era of extreme polarization and a lack of discourse between the two major political parties, being on a college campus will certainly provide students ample
opportunity to encounter and debate those of a different ideology. Especially here at St. John’s and St. Ben’s, where the Benedictine values that these  institutions hold are designed to foster debate and discussion on the issues of our day.

As a first-year student, the opportunities for discussion and debate that the Benedictine values provide was a huge factor in making my choice to come here. So far, I feel very fortunate that I am here compared to being at a university like UC-Berkeley, where it is all but impossible to have a productive dialogue.

But I feel that there is still progress to be made here at CSB/SJU. Before I continue, I should say that I am a Republican.

This piece is being written on a laptop with a Donald Trump bumper sticker on it. I have been open about my views on campus to provide for opportunities to discuss and understand the differences that people have. However, what I have found is that some people are hesitant to talk to me about current political issues.

When this happens, I can’t help but think of the missed opportunities and learning that could have occurred. This also means that we are not living up to the full potential that these Benedictine institutions allow us to achieve. It’s a problem that not only Democrats have, but an issue that I see my fellow  Republicans struggling with too.

Everyone is comfortable in their ideological bubbles, and leaving them is difficult.
Fortunately, I have been able to attend numerous discussion-based events on campus where both ideologies were present and I was able to get out of my bubble. I certainly feel that I have become better informed and all around a better person for doing so.

That discourse is something that I feel in the broader campus community collectively we need to continue working on. Let me take this opportunity to re-invite everyone in our community to engage in meaningful discussion on the issues of our day. Don’t let politics become a taboo subject.

See it as a way to further your liberal arts education outside of the formal class setting. Never be afraid to talk politics with the person wearing a Bernie Sanders t-shirt or a Donald Trump button. While you may not change anyone’s mind, you will provide them a different perspective on the world.

This is a powerful thing, and I’m sure both of you will be glad to have learned from each other. I know that I am excited to hear the other perspective and to share mine with someone else. I hope you are too.

This is the opinion of Jacob Czech, SJU first-year