It is important for people of all backgrounds and beliefs to exchange their ideas freely in situations where they are comfortable.
Creating a safe, judgment-free environment will encourage diversity on campus.
That being said, it is important to understand what diversity means.
True diversity can only exist when there is no established norm.
If a particular worldview or faith is seen as the standard and everything else is seen as a deviant, students and faculty who fall outside of the norm can feel that their beliefs are undervalued.
Unless everyone’s choices are equally valued, true diversity cannot exist.
Troy University is a public university, meaning that no particular faith can be established as a guideline for campus life.
In an institution of higher learning, the freedom to live with any set of values allows students to interact with diverse sections of the student population.
This means that education about the human experience can take place, in real time, outside of the classroom. Furthermore, researching an idea is always an option.
However, if students are not comfortable with hearing or discussing a particular idea, their right not to participate should be respected.
No one side is owed an audience, and pressing a system of belief onto an unwilling person does not celebrate diversity.
If a student is willing to hear, maybe even engage in a conversation or debate about differing values, that is the student’s choice.
Choice is a key component of diversity because it allows for everyone’s voices on any particular subject to be heard, not just those of the majority.
Our campus is an incredible amalgamation of faiths, lifestyles, nationalities and personalities.
Any students willing to experience these diversities, objectively, are sure to learn more about the world and themselves.
Differences should not be seen as an opportunity to change or challenge a person’s values or to tell them that they are wrong.
To hail any system of belief as the only one that is correct undermines the very notion of diversity.
Students and faculty members do not have the right to impose their values onto anyone on campus, nor do they have the right to devalue them or punish them for not sharing their beliefs.
As a non-religious person living in the South, my feelings and beliefs are attacked with incredible frequency.
That being said, I never open up any interaction, especially those in which I find myself in a position of authority, with an introduction of my spiritual convictions.
Only those close to me, or those who have agreed to participate in agreed upon circumstances, are aware of my feelings on most religious matters.
I do not think that people should have to live with their feelings under wraps.
However, I do think that we should all treat our differences with respect and as important factor in what makes each human a unique individual.
Embracing these differences does not mean that a person must change his or her existing values and beliefs; it only means that such changes are not being asked of anyone.