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Letter to the Editor from Beloit and Round Table alumnus

Like many, I was disappointed and disheartened to hear of the recent racist graffiti near the free wall. It serves as a reminder that Beloit College—and the world surrounding it—is an imperfect place.

What gave me hope, however, was the response to it by one of my former professors, George Williams.

“I’ve been told and believe, that hate can’t conquer hate, only love can conquer hate. Recently, the rhetoric on this campus has been inclusivity, but the actions speak a very different reality,” Williams wrote on StuBoard. 

Photo courtesy of Xavier Ward.

I have always admired Mr. Williams. Outside of being a fantastic artist, Mr. Williams is a phenomenal teacher. He taught me about a lot more than painting. He taught me how to accept criticism and how to respectfully critique others, he taught me about humility and that failure is OK, so long as it doesn’t stop you from continuing toward your goal. George was right then, and I wholeheartedly believe he’s right now.

He went on to argue that the rhetoric on this campus has only allowed for certain voices to be heard.

Make no mistake, acts of racism are cowardly attempts at provocation. But Mr. Williams argues that the campus dialogue, often one sided, is what allows these incidents to occur. When voices are suppressed, they become more extreme and more deeply rooted.

Presenting an opinion that goes against the grain of the Beloit student body’s liberal mindset is often met with public acrimony, accusations of prejudice and social isolation.

This, simply put, is not conducive to a learning environment.

A college is a place of learning, somewhere we go to have our opinions challenged. Sometimes, having those opinions challenged is uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing. At the end, however, you will be better for it. Your opinions will have strengthened, maybe even changed. You will be smarter and prepared to take on the world in front of you.

You will have learned, and knowledge is the greatest treasure of all—something no one can ever take away from you.

Attending an institution such as Beloit College is not a right, it is a privilege; it is up to the student body to act accordingly.

The people I met here, students or otherwise, helped shaped me into the person I am today.

Ron Nikora, Beth Dougherty and Pablo Toral, I have you three to thank specifically. You all challenged me to be better, both personally and intellectually, and helped to foster my love of learning. I am forever grateful.

Without the Round Table, my love of journalism would not have blossomed, and I certainly would not be a professional journalist today without it.

I have not attended Beloit College since 2016, and in my time outside of the college I have learned considerably more about myself than I expected to. I have come to realize that everything about Beloit College made me into the person I am today. The joys, struggles, mistakes and triumphs are all part of my experience and were all equally formative.

Beloit does great things for a lot of people. It allows people a space to be their authentic selves, to express themselves creatively and to explore wide-ranging academic topics and do so freely. This is something, I believe, that is taken for granted.

The Beloit College community, however, does not always respond well to dissenting opinions. And unless everyone is afforded a seat at the table, is it truly a discourse-driven curriculum?

If someone is able to respectfully present an opinion that differs from the rest of the school, why not engage them?

If you find someone’s position to be contemptible, hear it out — then dismantle it. This is how we learn.

No one benefits from a single-minded curriculum, so I challenge you to ask yourself why you are here and what you want out of your Beloit College experience.

Like Mr. Williams, I too ask when will we learn?

When will we learn that creating an inclusive learning space does not mean silencing those we disagree with? When will we learn that engaging opinions we disagree with is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength?

When will we learn that we, as a community, must be better?

Xavier Ward

Class of 2016

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