When I began writing for the Collegian, I had two primary goals: To defy political correctness and to warn students of the dangers of severe polarization. I am confident I succeeded in the first; the second, however, proved to be a near-insurmountable task.
I have made it a point to speak positively of those who hold opposing views because I understand that most people are driven by good intentions.
In my final column, I hope to strike a final blow to my personal adversary, a nemesis so powerful that it has infiltrated the very foundations of our education system and encroached upon the First Amendment like no administration ever could.
There is no greater enemy to free speech today than political correctness. Carefully designed arguments, carved from the bark of logic and reason, are reduced to mere ashes when subsumed by the flames of political correctness. It is the very antithesis of the American spirit, shrouding what was once pellucid exposition behind a veil of conflagration.
The main weapon of political correctness is simple, yet effective. Unable to formulate an effective argument, it relies on volume and contrived statements to silence the opposition. This tactic is employed in universities across America, and while effective, is neither innovative nor particularly convincing.
In this sense, there is no greater anti-American institution than that of the modern university. Instead of offering open dialogue, it offers prepackaged verisimilitude under the banner of public education.
As a university, we are expected to voluntarily hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct. Instead, we propagate the cultural pathology that political correctness represents. We listen as its gravelly voice encourages us to quiet our own, and we applaud as it commits larceny on our thoughts.
I have attempted to stand against this undulant morality by speaking openly about sensitive topics. I have never feared reproach but fully understand I am not above it. I have refused to offer an enervated argument in some naÃ¯ve attempt to mollify those who may take offense.
During my time at CSU, I have learned more than how to find the volume of a cylinder by integrating in spherical coordinates or how to best prevent malicious SQL injection in a susceptible database; I have learned how to respect and appreciate differing ideas, opinions and the people who hold them.
In parting, I offer a few challenges to all faculty, staff and students (myself included) at CSU.
When engaging in spirited dialogue and open discussion, learn to yield and give a little. Concede a point or two. At times, you may discover that your perspective is an unsubstantiated clump of coprolitic refuse, and you will likely snap under the pressure of maintaining such a rigid yet frail foundation.
View your ideological opponents not as enemies to be defeated, but as challenges to be met. Instead of approaching them with vehemence or disdain, approach them with curiosity and a thirst for comprehension.
Question your own beliefs. Consider your foundation. For example, I base my political views on three aspects: the U.S. Constitution, a sincere appreciation for free market principles and an undying love for my country.
Philosophically, I maintain three principles: a standing belief in the Christian God, respect for my fellow man and an adherence to logic.
Five years ago, my foundation was considerably different. A thorough investigation of what I believed and why resulted in the reshaping of my personal convictions. I urge you to do the same, but not so blithely that your position suffers pliable vacillation.
Abstain from hastily labeling the opposition. This tactic results in erroneous assumptions that lead to further misunderstandings, frustration and baseless ad hominem attacks.
Dedicate your life to learning, but approach your studies with reasonable apprehension. Be wary of indoctrination, and never hesitate to embrace your inner autodidact.
Finally, make it a point to thank our men and women serving in the armed forces.
Thank you, CSU, for the opportunity for a higher education. Thank you, readers, for continually challenging my views and supporting them when necessary. Itâ€™s been quite a ride, and I will always look back on my time as a columnist with fond memories.
Josh Phillips is a graduating senior. This is his final column, and he will miss you as much as you miss him. Goodbyes and parting shots can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.