ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Tempers are flaring again over free speech. But while many people shout and tweet across the political divide, college students are organizing civil campus discussions — with both sides at the table.
In the wake of violent political protests on campuses, some students have stepped away from the fray to seek what’s been lacking: space for reasoned conversation, listening and middle ground. Their hunger for moderation comes with rules that emphasize facts, ban personal attacks and respect ideological opponents.
It begs two questions: Are we allowed to feel hopeful? And can we learn something?
Sarah Wagner, graduate program coordinator in the psychology department at the University of Michigan, had attended WeListen sessions as the only staffer among undergraduates before she organized a version for faculty and staff members. About 50 people meet at lunchtime every other month.
“Sometimes, you find that you have the same idea as someone else who is a far-right Republican,” said Wagner, who leans left.
And being forced to explain her views, Wagner said, has made her think more deeply about them. She has heard perspectives she would not otherwise encounter. During a conversation on mass incarceration, she said, “at my table we had six people and four had immediate family members who had been in and out of prison throughout their lives.”
Read the full article at the Washington Post.