Think for yourself

College is a time of new beginnings, new ideas, and new experiences. When beginning college, many want to assert their independence. The most important area to do that is in politics.

Most individuals are initially exposed to politics by their parents. Whether it is political arguments over Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, the media their parents consume and are influenced by, or beliefs and ideas from life experiences, exposure to a diverse array of political ideologies is limited early in life. Like many students at Sam Houston State, I come from conservative backgrounds. College is a time when liberal beliefs are revealed for the first time to many students at SHSU. Going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas breaks may be a harrowing journey for students who have developed differing political views from those of their family members. It could make those students long to be back at school when they walk into their living room and hear Fox News blaring and their family yelling at the TV.

The difference between SHSU and other universities is the wide array of views heard. Many instructors are fair and respectful of each student’s individual feelings and ideas. Each student should go to college with an open mind and an open heart. You will meet people from all backgrounds, religions, races, national origin, and sexual orientation. The great thing about college is unity. When we are here, we are all one. We wear the same colors. We stick up for each other. You may disagree with other students and instructors, but everyone can teach you something new.

Whatever field you go into whether it is medical, legal, the arts, mass communications or criminal justice, each class you take will teach you something vital. It may be in English 1301 or Political Science 4081, but it is important to learn from everyone you encounter. While in college, from freshman year to your last final of your senior year, learn. Go to every informative event you can. Throughout the year SHSU hosts diversity events. Speakers of all backgrounds and ideas come to the campus. You will have the opportunity to brush shoulders with authors, doctors, lawyers, Supreme Court justices, politicians, and even celebrities during Sammypalooza.

Religious fundamentalists are, unfortunately, frequent visitors on campus. These men come and harass students with their extremist, far-right, nonsensical version of Christianity. Though these are tense times on campus, it is an opportunity for students to come together. Many Christian students stand up and profess the true teachings of Christ. Secularists express peace and love amongst everyone. So students of all backgrounds, Jewish and Muslim, unite with other groups to preach togetherness; this helps spark a religious conversation. Like many students, I started thinking differently and questioning aspects of their religion. There is nothing wrong with this. Philosophy and religion classes can open students’ minds to new ideas and theories. This can also cause familial tension, but since college is about growth and learning, formulating your own opinions is crucial. This is especially true if one comes from a hateful religious environment.

Whatever you choose to do with your life, use your experience in college to learn and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Do not distance yourself from others. Give someone a helping hand, meet a new friend, fail! College is the time in your life to figure out who you are as an individual and discover your passions. Voice your opinions. Hone your differences while respecting others. Fight for what you believe in and develop your individualism through politics.

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