The Chronicle’s View: No agenda is a good agenda

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Writing 2010 is a general requirement that all students at the U have to take. It is meant to cultivate basic writing skills in college students.

Yet this semester, some teachers in the writing department are teaching another element to this class: environmentalism.

While it is admirable to want to make these classes more organized around a central theme, some students expressed concern that the chosen topic was too political and one-sided.

It is not fair to push a political agenda on students in a class that they must take for graduation. Students didn’t choose this class or the environmentalist slant that it took this semester. Therefore, if there are students in the class who disagree with some of the readings, assignments and statements, they are more or less stuck.

Students should never feel like they are being force-fed someone else’s propaganda. Those in Writing 2010 are usually freshmen, and they may not yet be aware that they have the opportunity to argue against their teacher’s position because in high school many teachers’ rules are “my way or the F-way.” It is best to ease students out of their high-school mindset and into a university mentality.

We do not think that teachers cannot challenge students’ previously held political beliefs. Students need to be challenged. Even if they disagree with something, by hearing out that side of the issue, they will have the opportunity to better defend their reasoning, thus strengthening their own beliefs.

Students who disagree with the environmentalism component of this semester’s curriculum have an obligation to meet their teachers halfway.

Environmental writing can have literary value and be analyzed to the same extent as any other form of writing. These writings often have more layers than just the political.

Students should realize that the purpose of the inclusion of the environmental component was probably chosen to guide curriculum for its literary value and not as a political soapbox.

It is important for students to try to understand what their teachers are trying to impart to them rather than immediately jumping on the defensive.

Students should not be afraid to think outside the box, and in a university setting, they should expect to have their beliefs and ideas challenged. Ultimately, regardless of a student’s political stance, the knowledge they gained in Writing 2010 this semester is not wasted. Even if they disagreed with what they learned, hopefully it helped to strengthen their own convictions as they more fully examined their previously held beliefs.

Regardless, the writing department has decided to simply finish out this semester with the environmentalism theme and then remove it for next semester.

While it was admirable in intention, it was not fair to ask students who are often fresh out of high school and thought they were just going to hone their writing skills to learn about a particular political agenda as well.