After an article published in the last issue of the Stentor surrounding the Trump flag placed in one student’s dorm window, the discussion regarding this display of free speech has heated up. The article has been spread widely through social media, and the site Hypelinenews.com picked it up as well. Students have been discussing whether or not they believe the flag has any place on campus, as well as the marginalization it has caused to those who are members of either political party.
The argument of whether or not the flag should be allowed on campus property has been heavily debated on students’ social media sites. Many students argue that it is well within students’ First Amendment rights to show their support for a political figure through the display of a flag. Other students argue that if the demonstration of freedom of speech makes them feel alienated, it has no place on a college campus. The College has not asked the student to remove the flag, and other students have now placed flags in their windows as well. Lake Forest College President Stephen Schutt did send out an invitation to a dinner to discuss the political climate on campus, which many students see as the College’s response to the political discourse on campus that has come to light since the election.
The dinner invitation welcomed those of all political views for a free discussion of political life on campus. This invitation for free discussion goes hand in hand with the general mission of a liberal arts college, which is broad thinking. A liberal arts college like Lake Forest College serves not only to prepare students for careers through education, but gives students an education where they can develop critical thinking. Many students have expressed that since Lake Forest College is a liberal arts school, the display of varying opinions should be welcome.
The campus is not as divided as it may seem. “Students should keep an open mind and listen to what it is others have to say,” Asimwe Oben-Nyarko ’19 said. “Instead of immediately assuming they are racists or bigots, they should engage in conversation and keep an open mind before they make an opinion.”
After the Stentor article came out on February 14, many students felt that they were not able to express their opinions on the subject for fear of being assumed to be racists or bigots or the like for not disagreeing with the flag’s placement. The residents of the room with the Trump flag stated, “We are open to a respectful dialogue between students on campus. We are proud students of the College and care deeply about the campus community.”
Hypeline News, an aggregator that cites its mission as giving millennials access to political happenings, published its own article in response to the Stentor news story. That response has circulated on campus due to its implication that students of Lake Forest College panicked after seeing the Trump flag.
The Hypeline News story seemed to expand the alienation felt by those in agreement with either party. Those who agree with the conservative side of things felt that they were misrepresented by the discussion spread by the sharing of the Hypeline News article, and those who sre liberals felt they were misrepresented as “panicked” students. Some students on campus, despite their political alignment, wish to exemplify the liberal arts mission of accepting each other despite their opinions and discussing all subjects broadly without fear of alienation or misrepresentation.