Faculty, students discuss politics in classroom

Artwork by Leigh Cole

With the election fast approaching, political talk is at an all-time high.

It seems nearly impossible to escape discussion of Clinton’s e-mail server and Trump’s views on… everything. 

We’re bombarded by a constant stream of news headlines and television shows; all giving their two cents.                                                                    

For many, this talk extends into the college classroom. 

Gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick and the First Amendment.  All of these current topics are undoubtedly political in nature and professors may feel it is their duty to discuss them in class.

But do some professors take it too far? 

“This election is so crazy, you can’t help but talk about it,” said student Emily DiMeglio. 

DiMeglio went on to say that political talk does not bother her.

“Professors giving their opinion doesn’t bother me,” Dimeglio said. “It’s not like they’re going to change my mind.”

DiMeglio’s sentiment seemed to be a common view. 

Alexa Angel, a student who works for MCCC Board chairman Joe Bellino, said that politics in the classroom do not bother her, either.

“I don’t mind it. I’ve had professors where I could tell who they’re voting for,” Angel said. “But they never tried to force anything on us.”

“In the past, I had a teacher who talked about his political views a lot, but it never felt like he was trying to force us to believe the same way he did,” said student Emma Muth. “He shared his opinions, but at the same time, he wasn’t trying to indoctrinate us.”

Professor Tim Dillon agrees that teachers should be allowed to discuss politics with their classes.

“Professors should absolutely be allowed to discuss their beliefs,” Dillon said. “It’s called academic freedom.”

Academic freedom allows both teachers and students to engage in intellectual debate without the fear of punishment or censorship.

Dillon went on to say that professors should make sure that they are allowing students to respond.

“I don’t think it’s proper to push political beliefs without also allowing students to have a voice,” Dillon said.

Professor George Conklin, who is both a practicing lawyer and political science professor at MCCC, agreed that educators should be able to voice their political beliefs.

“As long as the professor states that it is their personal opinion, I do not see anything wrong with it,” Conklin said.

Like many of both the professors and her peers, MCCC student Alex Potratz agrees that teachers should be allowed to give their personal political opinions.

“My political science professor gives both sides when discussing political views,” Potratz said. “He doesn’t ever say that there’s a right or a wrong way. He just gives us the information and allows us to decide.”

Dillon said he believes these types of discussions are important because they force students to examine their views.

“I will always take the position of the author we are reading, although it may or may not be my position regarding an idea, philosophy, etc.” Dillon said. “I also always tell my students, because literature should challenge your thinking, if you have not been offended by ideas we have discussed by the last class of the semester, please raise your hand and I’ll do my best to offend you by challenging your thinking that day.”