In the recent article “Chalk Should Not Be Used to Share Opinions,” Jared “Jarde” Netley expounded upon the dangers of chalk-based discourse on Drake University’s campus. We disagree with the opinions presented in this article on numerous levels.
One of the major opinions expressed in this article is that chalk is not a medium to conduct discussion. To some extent, we agree that a calcium carbonate based debate may not be the most nuanced. Volumes can and have been written on the issue of abortion. With this in mind, chalk can be a way to begin that debate and raise awareness of issues and differing viewpoints.
This brings us to our second point. Netley argued that disagreement does not foster a community-like atmosphere. Drake’s community is defined by its diversity, be it academic, political, racial, religious or any other form. With so many diverse viewpoints, disagreement is inevitable and that fosters a vibrant academic community. If we were unanimous in all of our opinions, Drake would cease to be a verdant garden of ideas and would become a barren wasteland of apathy.
Netley also wrote that the public discussion of important issues hosts a “hostile community in which everyone is compelled to stress over personal beliefs” that would alienate guests and prospective students. One of Drake University’s core values is engaged citizenship and part of that value is participating in the public discourse regarding issues that face our community. Is it not our responsibility to demonstrate this vital quality? Why not show that we welcome all viewpoints and are free to respectfully express our opinions without fear? This open atmosphere is what attracts the caliber of student that Drake has come to expect.
It is interesting that Netley chose to invoke Dr. Seuss in the end of his opinion. If there is one thing that Dr. Seuss taught us, it is that discussion can begin in the most unexpected places, whether it is environmentalism in “The Lorax,” authoritarianism in “Yertle the Turtle” or the arms race in “The Butter Battle Book.” In his spirit, we should feel free to participate in the discourse of our community by any means possible: through chalk, debates, papers or children’s books. Discussion can begin anywhere, and we should not limit it based on medium.
– Nick Dorando and Scott Barcus