Duke University student newspaper columnist Ashley Camano writes in The Duke Chronicle that she’s white, heterosexual and, because of that, feels intimidated about expressing her opinions.
At a university where the opinions of those who champion ethnic studies, LGBTQ rights, and defend perceived victimized and slighted groups and similar causes, are held in the highest of esteem, Ashley said she wonders where her ideas fit in, if at all.
What does a white, straight girl who plays sports and leads a regular life have to add to such topics, she noted her in column, adding she is afraid to speak her mind.
I’m a straight, white girl from New Jersey. I have an average GPA and spend an above-average time placing emphasis on the ‘athlete’ portion of the compound phrase ‘student-athlete.’ …
Somehow, I still have an opinion. Every other week, I’m allowed to ascend up to the frightening peak that is this soapbox, this column, to step back up to my podium and hope you listen. In a culture of continuously escalating sensitivities coupled with frank and furious opinions on topics of cross-campus or trans-Atlantic importance, it’s a difficult endeavor to be a straight, white girl and attempt to get your attention.
There’s a fine line between being passionate and being offensive, as we’ve discovered in the racially, politically or sexually charged opinion columns of recent publication. And due to my own sociopolitical status, the people around me have made me afraid to speak.
… I am—contrary to what it sometimes might seem—a living, breathing human with a functioning mind and a fervent opinion on matters that matter. I care about the world, and I care about this school. I care about human existence and human rights and the right to privacy and liberty and everything else that you care about. But for the first time in my life, I’m afraid to say it.
There is a constant, redundant cycle every other week of choosing a topic that appropriately incites the attention of the student body, or if I’m lucky, an audience that stretches beyond the dormitories and dining halls on campus. …
At Duke, community standards take the form of high-leveled social norms and constant pressures to be passionate about something. My peers are passionate and trailblazing 20-somethings. They are devoted to a cause or a community or a lifestyle, and they are unabashedly fervent in demonstrating that passion to the world, or at least to the community in close proximity. They are outspoken controversial, and they are unafraid of conferring with their critics. But in this constant bombardment of race and sex and culture and controversy, I’ve gotten lost. I feel unaware and unqualified.
I feel white and straight and relatively voiceless on matters of heated debate. I fumbled with the idea of whether or not this was something I felt comfortable publishing. This is an opinion column without an opinion, a manifestation of my insecurity in formulating one.
Judge me. Call me uneducated or lacking passion or cultural plurality—but I’m not going to fabricate socio-cultural zeal. I have passions, but campus culture chooses the ones it feels are most fervent—and those aren’t mine. Call me unqualified or ignorant or naïve. Call me afraid. Maybe I am, but maybe you made me that way.
This is what today’s modern campus has produced. Young women who feel somewhat ashamed and frightened to be who they are, to speak their mind, because all around them the fervent rhetoric of campus political correctness, of angry victimized masses, drown out average, mainstream students like Ashley, makes them feel small and unworthy and unimportant, pressures them to get adamant about causes or get out of the way.
Ashley Camano speaks for a lot of young college women out there, whose ideas and opinions are edged out and overshadowed by vitriolic voices.
Click here to read her entire column.