Grace-filled or graceless?

Being a Christian institution, one might presume that Seattle Pacific would present an air of acceptance, tolerance, and even recognition to peoples of all different viewpoints, and that to an extent, the morals, values, and lifestyle expectations established at the university reflect just that. Yet, the students boast a different agenda.

Social status still plays quite a part through college life. For those just joining us, a quick and concise explanation: college does not transform kids into adults. Whether it’s a playful bite at a friend’s clothing, choice of music, or a more bitter, acerbic remark gossiped to the extreme behind closed doors, SPU students are guilty of mocking their fellow students’ social backgrounds.

For example, imagine a scuffle breaks out between two prevalent social groups at SPU in Gwinn. The yuppie, high-class "partiers" enter Gwinn, with the intention of gathering food: some to consume now, a portion to leave with and consume later. In attempting to claim their usual table, the yuppies run into the straight-edge (sXe) kids, who have apparently obtained their spot. The yuppies are visibly shaken, yet they don’t wish to incite a class war in the cafeteria. The straight-edge kids become aware of the silent tension, and begin their own silent pre-emptive strike, barraging the yuppies with fries from the Grille. Now with good reason, a brawl breaks out between the yuppies and the straight edges. It’s unfortunate in this case that violence isn’t one of the things sXe’s claim to be abstinent from. While this highly preposterous and ludicrous scenario is entirely false, it could happen. Seriously.

The deriding attitude of intolerance is also very present at SPU when discussing one’s religious views. With the recent controversy, rather, catastrophe, concerning Mars Hill and the legitimacy of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s claims about Catholicism, the initial claims, and later responses, were not handled in a very refined manner. From the outright, unnecessary mudslinging to the not-so-gracious shots back at the original article, we, unfortunately, are provided with a prime example of religious intolerance at SPU.

Yet another travesty among campus is the lax and dismissing attitude toward political beliefs at SPU. Perhaps I assume too much, but it seems to me, as we are all adults, or at least, should be expected to act as such, we’d be able to be tolerant of each other’s views. Granted, being a Christian university, one could infer that a large portion of the student body is conservative, and not be far from the truth. Nonetheless, SPU does harbor students with all different sorts of political beliefs and backgrounds; it should be expected that we celebrate our political diversity and disparities. Unfortunately, seeing as how one-minded our students can be, celebrating political diversity is not an option.

It seems that it’s not enough to want to make an effort to discount or disprove an opposing viewpoint, but the impression I’ve received at SPU from some of its students is that there is no rational reason to discuss why one believes what they do, but the fact that they belong to the majority makes it right. Not only is one right by these standards, but the arguments and perspectives of the opposing side shouldn’t even be considered, as they don’t matter.

What’s most tragic about these three faults is that the problem persists even here at a Christian university. It would be ridiculous to maintain that intolerance could be completely absent at SPU; we are all humans, but one might begin to wonder why intolerance exists in such magnitude that it flourishes. This institution, out of all places, should be a center where students come together to fight the very entity we all reflect: ignorance.

From something like an in-depth study of different cultures, to simply listening to what someone of a different social, religious, or political background has to say about their beliefs, broadening one’s horizons in order to better understand and tolerate one another is not as difficult as it sounds. When we can tolerate one another, we can celebrate one another, hence widening the understanding of the diversity across our campus, and that’s exactly what we need.

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Title: Grace-filled or graceless? | Author: Richard Hajarizadeh | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2006-01-25 | Internal ID: 4799