On Dec. 7, 2017, a political altercation occurred at Rose Hill’s Rodrigue’s Coffee House that would gain national attention. The incident spurred rabid discussion and loud arguments from people on all points of the political spectrum. But this event was more than just a political debate: it raised concerns that Fordham’s reputation as one of the worst colleges for free speech would only continue. It was also symbolic of the tense ideological atmosphere present in the United States of late.

We as a nation are often on edge, ready to defend our beliefs with Excalibur drawn and unwilling to stand down. This is a good thing. But too frequently, we let that violent attitude get the best of us and we attack—or even write off entirely—those who disagree with us. This is not a good thing.

It is in times like these that we are reminded that current political discourse has reached a boiling point and cannot go any further. Gone are the times when people had reasonable, peaceful debates on a regular basis; but they are not gone forever. As a community, both here at Fordham and out in the world, we must foster meaningful discussions free of intentional provocations or barebones insults. We are all a part of this problematic culture. We must all be better.

At Fordham, any student should be able to voice their opinion and be themselves without fear of isolation or harassment, whether socially or systematically. This goes for people of all backgrounds, races, religions, politics and any other defining characteristics. If Fordham is to build a reputation as a campus that supports free speech, the defense of all people is a key component of that process.

The Observer, meanwhile, must also continue to affirm its position as “The Student Voice of Lincoln Center.” Having said that, we do not endorse one party or another in the Rodrigue’s debate. This is not the point. Rather, we must give a voice to all parties in this incident and, in doing so, promote the healthy discussion of important topics at Fordham. To do better, students should set up a forum where they can respectfully debate important social and political issues that mean the most to them, with or without the assistance of university faculty. At a time and place of their choosing—perhaps even Rodrigue’s—students should host these discussions to improve Fordham’s standing as a college for free speech. But this only works if we all remember that cooler heads prevail and that we have more in common than not as a community on this campus that we call home

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