Kamel: Standing up for your beliefs is always beneficial

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Jonathan Kamel, Columnist

I came to Northwestern this fall wanting to make my mark on campus and define myself in something I like to do. I began reading The Daily in Fall Quarter and found the opinion section to be the most engaging part of the publication. In October, I submitted a response to Sydney Zink’s op-ed piece on affirmative action, and luckily it was published.

After seeing my name in print, I felt an expected sense of pride but also an appreciation that my voice was being heard on campus. I decided to apply to be a columnist over Winter Break to provide a voice for myself and for my fellow members of the class of 2016.

Of all the applications I filled out this past year, deciding to become a columnist for the past two quarters was the best decision I made all year. While researching and then composing a 700-word piece each week on top of regular course work has provided a challenge, I will end my freshman year as a different person because of it. From writing on topics that I am passionate about, namely Israel and the environment, I found an inner voice that will guide me in my future years at Northwestern.

I found it especially important to write about current events that were being discussed at length in the news or propose ideas, like a carbon tax, that I feel are necessary to advance our society. In many of my columns I stood up for what I believed was right on a certain issue, whether it was involvement in Syria or standing strong against a Holocaust denier on campus. It didn’t matter if I was speaking for the minority of students or the majority, just that I was staying true to myself and where I come from.

Some of my columns attracted responses from individual students, groups on campuses, and fellow columnists that disagreed with my opinions or the evidence I used. I applaud these students for taking the initiative to speak their minds and engage in a discussion through reading my own writing. College campuses are meant to be places of intense debate, conversations and overall educated interactions. This is essentially what the Opinion page is: a place for all students to feel like part of a community and a page where all voices are equal.

I commend my fellow columnists who have contributed their own insights on controversial issues on campus or in American society. It takes courage to take a stand that will be analyzed, criticized and argued against by classmates, faculty and even friends. Some of the most heated conversations I’ve had concerning my own beliefs have been with those who I am closest with. As this may be my last column, I want to emphasize how important it is to remember that at the end of the day we are all One Northwestern. Our differences in perspective and opinion make this campus the diverse intellectual space that we want it to be.

I hope The Daily’s Opinion page continues to be an open and lively arena for students to voice their dreams, comment on campus issues, and engage in discussions that reach beyond the Northwestern bubble. For me, it has provided all these opportunities and more. Free speech and thought remain the cornerstone of this great nation and university. Without a medium to express our active minds, controversial beliefs and general discontent, we are left up a creek without a paddle.

Jonathan Kamel is a Weinberg freshman. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].