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To anyone with an opinion

April 19, 2024 at 4:00:00 PM

Anne Sehon '25

Dear Prospective Opinion Writers, The Mercersburg NEWS needs opinions. Your opinions. Strong, well-founded, opinions written by people who are passionate about their respective causes.

We need you.

In an election year, with about a fourth of our current student body being eligible to vote by November, it is important that we not live in a political echo chamber. It would be ignorant to say that we live in an openly politically diverse community; most people who are politically active on campus hold liberal values, and conservatives have the choice to either be silent or be shunned for their political views. That should not be the case, especially going into what promises to be an extremely polarized election cycle.

As someone who will be eighteen in September and, therefore, eligible to vote, I find myself confused about many different topics, as well as how to have conversations with others about them, specifically if they hold beliefs different from my own. Through many conversations with my peers, I've found that lots of other students in our community feel the same. If we had more and more open political conversations, as well as opinion pieces in the NEWS, there could be more ground for having more discussion and subsequently for forming new views, one begetting the next, forming a cycle that could lead to more diverse thought and change at Mercersburg Academy - a cycle that breaks cycles.

In my past three years working with NEWS, I've heard students voice their worries about the repercussions of writing an opinion piece that is not well-received by some group or another on campus, whether it be peers, faculty, or both - there have been previous pieces that have landed students in uncomfortable conversations with faculty members. I understand these fears, but I assure you that if your piece is grounded, polished, and not provocative for the sake of being provocative, as well as written by someone who truly believes in what they're preaching, no sort of "trouble" is coming for you.

Simultaneously, though, we as a community need to open our minds more to constructive criticism and accept the possibility of disagreement, your opinions lacks weight if they entirety of the community around you sees it as fact; you're preaching to a choir all singing the same monotonous tune, when Mercersburg should be a community of diverse voices singing in harmony. I recently went to the Braver Angels depolarization training hosted by the Civic Engagement Task-Force and the idea that disagreement is salutary to good relationships was continuously emphasized and re-emphasized throughout. The Mercersburg community needs to learn how to have healthy disagreements. That's how we get things done.

In all, though, it's a question of free speech and how our campus defines it. No student should feel unsafe because of an opinion they hold, and no student should feel unsafe because of an opinion someone else holds. The Mercersburg NEWS holds weight on this campus and has the ability to cultivate an environment in which both of those aforementioned things are true.

So, I am asking you to help create the cycle-breaking cycle and contribute to a nascent choir of diverse voices on the campus of Mercersburg Academy. We want your opinion in the NEWS. We want to create change. And we want your help.


Anne Sehon

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