Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
Imagine if Student A asked Student B the question “What do you think about the United States’ increasing abortion restrictions?” while waiting for their Spanish professor to arrive to class. Student B might respond (instead of reviewing the reading from the previous night) and proceed to argue with Student A. When the professor arrives to class, both Student A and B are frazzled, as well as anyone who overheard their conversation, thereby disrupting the focus of the class from, say, Don Quixote to one of the most controversial political topics in the United States. Did that exchange provide anything important to the participants in it or around it? Dialogue like this is a superfluous and stressful distraction.
I do not care about your thoughts or opinions surrounding abortion, whether pro-life, pro-choice or whatever stance one may identify with. A student organization brought this issue to the forefront of attention by placing anti-abortion paraphernalia on the Coates Esplanade and trying to start discussions with students while many of us are rushing to our next class. Yet, it seems to me that no one will change their own opinion about the hotly contested topic of abortion with a couple of posters, student organizers and off-campus religious or political commentators. You have your opinions, and I have mine, but we don’t need to discuss our opinions when we have other things we should be focusing on (cough, cough — classes).
We are all at this university to take courses that expand our knowledge of the world around us through the insightful professors who teach here. If we are to learn anything over abortion, it should be through one of the classes we take, perhaps through the Women and Gender Studies or Biology Departments because without the guidance of a learned professional in a relevant field of study, falsehoods can be spread and respect between peers can dissipate.
Campus demonstrations will not change anyone’s opinion over abortion. They will only boil tensions between factions on campus and further divide us as a student body and, to some extent, as a nation. While I think it is important to discuss and further understand topical events in our nation and in the world at large, we should be having these conversations in a classroom with an academic who is well-versed in the topic. Most importantly, we ought to be listening more than we are talking as none of us have the experience or knowledge to teach others about abortion. If you have your Ph.D. in “abortion studies,” reproductive rights or something similar, feel free to prove me wrong. However, until Trinity offers such a class, I think that we should not focus on controversial distractions that further allow us to procrastinate our studies.
These events allow discourse to further anger both conservative and liberal students alike while breeding a more degrading campus environment. We should try to learn from professors, instead of student organizations that try to pester students over sensitive topics as they try to make their way to Taco Taco. Perhaps we should try to ignore the attempted obstructions to our studies, which make us more stressed than we need to be in the first place. I do not want to be badgered into stressful and sensitive conversations surrounding abortion while I walk across this campus. I do not believe this to be a radical position to take — unless, of course, this demonstration is affiliated with a future official “abortion studies” seminar. I am paying my tuition to learn from people with the credentials to teach, and I want us all to focus on the courses that are offered in a classroom, not under a tree.