Email represents goals of university
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 06:08
UCF cross-cultural psychology professor Charles Negy gained national notoriety after a post on Reddit publicized an email that Negy sent out to his students. The email detailed events that transpired in a psychology class last semester. The email specifically described how multiple Christian students became upset by Negy’s lecture, which stated that in many cases religion and culture go hand in hand. One student even stood up in front of the class and challenged Negy’s talk on culture and religious bigotry, proclaiming that Christianity is the only valid religion. The student then attempted to rally other students to “not participate.”
UCF is home to more than 57,000 students from vastly different backgrounds and religions. This particular psychology class, which had more than 300 students, was not solely composed of Christians. This sort of rhetoric and outburst isolates those who ascribe to other faiths as well as those who ascribe to none. It was, at its core, childish and had no place in an institution of higher education. Respectful, intelligent debate that dissented from the lecture would have been welcomed, no doubt, but instead, students chose to become offended and let their emotions reign supreme.
In his email, Negy explained the intent of the lecture and its higher purpose.
“We are not in class to learn ‘facts’ and simply regurgitate the facts in a mindless way to items on a test. Critical thinking is a skill that develops over time. Independent thinking does not occur overnight,” Negy wrote. “Critical thinkers are open to having their cherished beliefs challenged, and must learn how to “defend” their views based on evidence or logic, rather than simply ‘pounding their chest’ and merely proclaiming that their views are ‘valid.’”
Negy’s response to the situation was not only warranted, it was long overdue. It raises essential questions and validates concerns regarding the status of American education. College should serve to challenge our beliefs and assist us in realizing that all subjective values such as religion and political ideology are not immune to scrutiny. The ability to come to a reformed opinion on something after much thought and consideration of the evidence is not only a mark of intelligence, it is a mark of humility. Students who arrogantly claim that their religion is the best religion are not only guilty of being disrespectful, they should be ashamed of their engorged egos. The United States is not now, nor ever was it, a Christian nation. A claim that Islam is the only valid religion would have undoubtedly sent the aforementioned Christian students into a seizure. This is a biased reaction, and the religious freedom that people love to point to in the First Amendment functions as a two-way street. Only when this is realized will there be intellectual and moral progress. For now, however, academic sanctity suffers.