In today’s society, it seems impossible for anyone to effectively express a dissenting opinion. If you look at Facebook, Twitter, or any social platform, you’re almost certain to find people expressing opinions and people expressing disagreement with the opinions of others. Unfortunately, as we all have seen, these discussions often display anger and stubbornness, characteristics that are certainly not conducive to friendly debates. Personally, I have never felt comfortable entering into these type of discussions on social media, but I do appreciate an engaging and friendly debate.

One of the benefits of going to Northwestern is the people. As cliché as it may sound, the people at Northwestern all come from different backgrounds, and with different backgrounds comes a diversity of opinions and viewpoints. These differences among us make for fantastic conversation both in and out of the academic setting. Of course, people on social media platforms also come from diverse backgrounds, but what makes Northwestern unique is the civility of the debates. For example, I am currently in a sociology class about ethnography. Earlier this week, we were discussing how ethnographers have become more and more aware of how their research comes across, especially related to studying marginalized communities. One person in the class noted that researchers who don’t come from marginalized communities but study marginalized communities may be problematic. Other students in the class disagreed but were able to express their opinions freely. Watching this kind of debate unfold was awesome to me. Not only was I fascinated by the thoughts of my classmates, but I was also proud to be a part of a university that values this kind of dialogue.

As I enter the “real world” and begin my job this summer, I am extremely confident that Northwestern has prepared me to contribute my thoughts honestly and reflectively during any discussion. If I have an opinion that is different than my colleagues, I know it is okay to express it, and if my colleagues have an opinion, I know how to listen and reflect upon what they’re saying. These are skills that have become far too rare in today’s society and Northwestern instills these good communication skills into its curriculum.

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