My heart was beating and my mouth was dry. Dare I challenge my professor’s assertion that Marxism is a better economic system? As I began to speak, fifteen pairs of eyes turned my way…
Coming from a family of firm believers in the free market, I was never certain whether my opinions were my own or those of my parents. Leaving home, I looked forward to going to a college where I could encounter a range of viewpoints. Scripps gave me the perfect opportunity to challenge my most closely-held beliefs because I was on my own in a sea of people who disagreed with me. I went into my Core II class, “Eat the Rich! Capitalism and Work,” fully committed to evaluating alternative viewpoints.
I read the class materials with curiosity and an open mind, and I came to class prepared to discuss both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, I was the only one who voiced a capitalist perspective. If a class about capitalism does not address both the positives and negatives of the free market, students are not able to develop an informed opinion. While the professor claimed to address both sides of the issue, he rarely, if ever, presented the positive aspects of capitalism. Even more alarming was the fact that the socialist and Marxist readings were required, while the pro-capitalist readings were completely optional.
Now, back to that fateful moment. Overcoming my fears, I clearly stated my case. The professor scrambled for a response. That’s when I realized that I was the luckiest student at Scripps College. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to challenge my own views, evaluate my long-held beliefs, and articulate my thoughts independently. I am especially grateful that I gained the confidence to stand my ground in a room full of people who disagreed with me. Other Scripps students, however, have not been so lucky in that respect.
As John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” I challenge Scripps professors and students to explore all perspectives of an issue, so that every student can have the same opportunities that I have had.
Photography by Wes Edwards.