Endless hours studying democracy and its importance in representing all views, including those of both the majority and minority, are integral to our social sciences curriculum. Although we are inclusive when analyzing political culture on paper, our behaviour differs in practice. A democracy may value majority and minority viewpoints, but it is the majoritarian opinions that dominate the Sciences Po student culture. 

While Canada is not unknown to dissent, the French approach of immediate protest and blockades in reaction to controversial policies and administrative actions was certainly a culture shock. Nevertheless, there is a common core concerning causes and reactions. Discontent may ignite advocacy, but it may also spark a diversity of reactions to the blockade approach. In recent times, Sciences Po students exercised the right to protest in virtue of our director’s return to his role amidst domestic violence allegations, and rightfully so. The majority supported the blockades, but some students notably disagreed with this strategy. 

However, it was not the diversity in opinion that was striking, but the difference in reaction to these contrasting arguments. Sundial writers who unwaveringly supported the routine blockades received profound praise. On the other hand, articles arguing that the costs of the blockades outweighed the benefits were subject to immense slander. Some students took to social media to defame the writers of these articles and denounce their morality. They were painted as students invalidating an important cause, when in reality, it was the approach they deemed ineffective, not the cause. Overall, this contradicts the freedom of speech we embed within democracy and abuses the power of social media to falsely portray an individual in the light we blindly choose to shine. 

This behavioural pattern is not limited to The Sundial Press, but extends to our political dynamic. Due to 71 percent of our student body being left-leaning, it is natural to have a confirmation bias. The issue arises when we refuse to fully open our eyes to the other side and we partake in the same ignorance of which we accuse the right. I may be left-leaning, but I understand that the right side of the political spectrum views certain topics differently and respect their contrasting opinion. 

We are so accustomed to this “us vs. them” perspective, yet our obstinance is cut from the same cloth. Moderate positions on both sides of the political spectrum desire societal advancement, yet our student body collectively only accepts one vision. Left-leaning pursuits are deemed the only correct option, and the other side is supposedly “brain-washed” for having different socio-political values or financial objectives. We condemn the right for invalidating our views when we reciprocate that very behaviour. It is alright not to agree, but we cannot utilize disrespect as the solution.

This is not to understate the impacts of the radical right today, but to emphasize the underlying similarities in moderate political standings. Amidst anti-immigration policy proposals and threats to democratic processes, it is easy to falsely associate the extreme right with the average conservative. We often forget that both sides of the spectrum can have harmful consequences if pursued to their respective extremes. At times, this dynamic is reflected in our closed-mindedness to less prominent opinions of campus events. We are quick to resort to social media to slander peers with diverse viewpoints instead of engaging in conversations that aid us grasp their point of view. Overall, we all have different experiences that shape our political and cultural outlook, but we have the choice regarding how we approach diversity. Our current manner uses advocacy to disguise the only socially-acceptable route —  agreement with the majority opinion. Thus, as a whole, we must do better at practicing what we preach. 


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