By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
In recent weeks, the Optimist has reported on some pretty sensitive issues: We’ve run stories about the discussions on abortion that have been led in Chapel; we have reported on the legal, medical and ethical repercussions of the Terri Schiavo battle; and this week, we wrote about how United has begun selling alcoholic beverages.
Before we published each of these stories, and many others throughout the year, the staff and advisers discussed how the stories could be constructed in the most sensitive way possible, who the reporter could talk to in order to have a balanced article, and how people might react to the stories-then we would wonder and joke about how many letters we might get in response.
Of course every paper on every campus and in every city has to take extra precautions when preparing to discuss a delicate issue because more people will have stronger opinions about those issues.
And sometimes when the Optimist publishes an article on a sticky subject, we expect a rush of angry feedback, but many times we get nothing. It ends up not being as big a deal as we had perceived it to be.
However, the ACU community, myself included, seems to worry too much about what people are going to think if we even mention issues like abortion, homosexuality, drinking, pornography, and the list goes on and on.
A Campus Life staff member and I joked the other day during an interview about whether we were allowed to say the words “Planned Parenthood” on this campus, and that maybe we should have closed the window before we started discussing abortion. Sure, it was a joke, and we laughed about it, but deep down I knew it’s partially true.
What will our alumni think if they find out we’re addressing abortion in Chapel for several weeks? Will donors retract their contributions if they hear we’re talking about homosexuality in forums, or even worse, in the Optimist?
This year, Campus Life has taken steps in the right direction by initiating discussions on abortion, pornography and eating disorders. If we as graduates of this university are to go out and change the world, we have to be aware and acknowledge what’s going on in that world, and also acknowledge that those things are happening on this campus, too.
It’s time for the university and those connected to ACU to realize that we’re living in a time when these sensitive kinds of topics aren’t taboo in other places. These issues can’t be swept under the carpet or forced back into the closet; this bubble over students’ heads doesn’t last forever.
I hope future ACU students won’t have to speak in hushed voices about abortion or wonder why no one will address them candidly about same-sex attraction. I hope they won’t have to worry about voicing their opinion in class about the right to die or declare that they agree or disagree with Massachusetts’ marriage law.
Current events alone show us that these are the ways of this world we live in; if the university hopes to truly develop and train students to change the world, hopefully for the better, then students must be prepared for what will bombard them once they depart this campus.
An open mind, an accepting attitude and the courage to address any issue, regardless of the sensitivity of the subject, will truly help train students so that we all can make a difference in this world.