USG Report: Open discussion helps resolve differences

In my role as president of the Undergraduate Student Government at Baruch College, I often struggle with ways to best represent our students. There are students who have certain life experiences which I may never understand. However, I know that I cannot be a good representative of the student population without fully understanding its problems and opinions. In an effort to bridge that gap, I speak with fellow Bearcats to gain a better understanding of how they approach their issues.

In the heat of this election cycle, I found myself frustrated when I heard opposing views expressed by people with whom I could not agree. Admittedly, I raised my voice toward family, friends and even strangers when trying to express my own thoughts. Sometimes during exchanges, I would automatically jump to conclusions and tune out of a conversation after hearing certain statements with which I did not agree. I admit that it was not the best tactic to gloss over valid arguments just because I disagreed.

We must embrace tough talks with those who do not see eye-to-eye with us. You have the ability to filter information and completely surround yourself with viewpoints similar to your own. You can unfriend and unfollow people who do not share similar values.

Due to the near-infinite amount of content online, you are also bound to find articles or blogs that support your mindset. This can be appealing to sort through, but being blind to a diverse set of opinions and ideas leads to ignorance.

This election has exposed a clear divide in our society and we must make it our job to mend that divide. By having these tough conversations, we will heal. If we shut people out from these important dialogues, however, we will be driven further apart and fail to understand our differences. Even after listening to the other side, you may still disagree, but you will have learned more about why people on the other side feel a certain way. To disagree respectfully is a much more powerful statement than automatically demonizing someone who has different beliefs.

Oversimplifications and generalizations of people set us back, but by having open conversations, generalities fall away. This is vitally important to the success of our school and our nation. The divisive rhetoric that has fueled, and at times, defined this campaign cycle cannot continue. I ask you to have these hard conversations and difficult discussions. It is the only way we can heal and advance as a society. We are all on the same team so we have to start acting like it.

Daniel Dornbaum is the president of USG. He can be reached at daniel.dornbaum@usgbaruch.com. His office is located at 3-272 in the Newman Vertical Campus.

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