“… it seems to me that conservatism, in the sense of conservation, is of the essence of the educational activity, whose task is always to cherish and protect something — the child against the world, the world against the child, the new against the old, the old against the new…”
— Hannah Arendt
In our current political climate, media has exacerbated and publicized social tensions. Mostly these are tensions that have always existed but have not always been issues of large-scale public contention. The proliferation of mass media has led to increased political divisiveness and one-sidedness and has left behind the opportunity to use media platforms as a way to expand the imagination, and understand those who inhabit the world alongside us. This one-sidedness is evident in the increasingly polarized private American education system where instead of encountering expansive thinking students are continually exposed to the same liberal ideas. Education should be enlightening, yet it tends to keep us in an isolated bubble reinforcing an individual outlook on the world. This isolation is especially evident in the current trend on college campuses of instituting safe spaces, trigger warnings, and disinviting speakers whose ideas are considered too “controversial” or “offensive” by some. How do we break out of this bubble on college campuses? How are we going to change the world if we are only exposed to one set of ideals?
In response to this trend, students at Bard College began the Hannah Arendt Center’s Campus Plurality Forum, which includes the Tough Talk Lecture series and Real Talk Roundtables. The Tough Talk Lecture Series, which I’ve been running for the past year, aims to consider and make space for opinions and perspectives on Bard’s campus that are often invisible and unheard. In order to learn and grow, we must challenge our own ideas and conceptions of the world. This lecture series is an initiative for our community to challenge and hold accountable both our own ideas and those that some might find offensive, and perhaps even dangerous.
As a student at Bard, I’ve thought about the ways in which social media has made it easy for us to demonize others through technological means, where we are not required to encounter one another face-to-face. The digital realm provides a kind of comfort where one can speak freely behind the…