*Photo Credit: Samuel Bleifer
Students of Pitt,
As I enter my third year, I find myself reflecting on the tremendous tumult that has wracked the Pitt campus and, indeed, the country in the last two years. The political and cultural climate of this campus and others throughout the country has been grotesquely tarnished by the rapidly decaying climate of thought, ideas, and debate. Increasingly, campus discourse has been reduced to slogans, cheap talking points, and, sadly, physical acts of intimidation. In this university climate, single-mindedness and intellectual ignorance are far too prevalent.
I have become disconcerted by the dialogue on our campus, as there is little room for constructive, meaningful debate. Instead, our political conversations tend to include ad hominem attacks on those with opposing points of view. These same attacks are endorsed and learned in the classroom, which has betrayed the purpose of the university. All too often, professors, cheered on by student radicals, spout one-sided, ideologically-driven jargon, which serves only to cement the opinions of students who agree and isolate the voices of students who object. The purpose of the university is no longer to teach students how to think, but what to think. Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to engage in constructive conversation, not anti-intellectual shouting matches.
For these reasons, dozens of us from all political backgrounds joined together last spring to start a new media organization based in Oakland. We are students who understand that, like never before, the purpose of the American university is being threatened by those who aim to abuse it for political ends. Moreover, we understand that the best way to combat this phenomenon is to celebrate the power and diversity of ideas, and debate those ideas with reason, courage, and a clear mind.
Out of this was born the Unsafe Place. Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek name fool you, though, we are a young organization but our purpose is absolutely clear. For the next four years of your life and beyond, we hope to be an intellectual refuge for those who wish to go beyond the constraints of the current campus environment.
We ask those who seek to rescue campus political discourse to join us on the battleground of ideas. Our goal is not to change anyone’s opinion, but rather to foster meaningful, engaging, and enlightening debate. In an age where meaningless, intellectually deficient soundbites are the norm, it’s more important than ever that we maintain an open dialogue and debate issues at length. And so I ask you to please join with us, be it as a reader, contributor, assistant, or editor, in our mission to restore the purpose of the university.
I wish you all the best and hope to hear from you,
Samuel Bleifer, Editor-in-Chief