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The Imperative of Inquiry

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by Alex Carr

The summer has slipped by once again and in its place a fresh batch of eager students have arrived at Roanoke College, anxious about what the next few years hold. As every RC student should know from the notorious convocation speech of mandatory attendance, this school has proudly stood its ground since 1842 in supporting controversial but necessary conversations about the most pressing matters of its times.

Unfortunately, many universities nationwide have recently fallen short in upholding this once ubiquitous priority of higher education. They have succumbed to a growing authoritarian and intellectually stifling trend of excessive political correctness among their student bodies. Presently, it is dependent upon the ever-evolving RC community to remain steadfast in upholding its legacy by not surrendering to the forces of censorship at the expense of valuable discourse about challenging issues.

College is a period of intellectual exploration like no other; a time during which many will leave the attitudes and beliefs of their hometowns and plunge headfirst into a thicket of ideas that cut against the grain of their identities.  Prefacing real life, at RC you will meet people who hold deeply personal beliefs and who can’t help but share them.  

People will offend you, scare you, and even piss you off by openly posting ideas that you may consider blasphemous.  But don’t worry, that is supposed to happen; that’s the good stuff! In the words of Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

College exists specifically as a public sphere amidst which students are intentionally cast.For many, this will be disorienting and destabilizing. For most, however, it will unveil many new lenses through which to better evaluate the world. You may find yourself withdrawing into social circles of only like-minded individuals.  While this will be a source of close friends, make a conscious effort to engage in fair-minded debate those with whom you disagree.  

For four years, you have a unique opportunity to expand your mind and develop your critical thinking skills. Modify them actively in the marketplace of ideas, be skeptical, and encourage yourself to have a conversation about anything no matter how profound., Most of all, learn to relish the thrill of enlightenment as you stand upon eroding ground, watching helplessly as the forces of reason pull pins out from your deepest convictions!

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