Photo by Ryan Brinkman | Photo Editing by Haley Hoidal
Growing up, I often felt like having an opinion was a bad thing. Even though nobody ever explicitly said that, the sentiment was palpable in the classrooms at my elementary school. When I, or another female student, would raise a hand to offer an opinion on a topic, I could see the eye rolls across the room. I could see people turn to their friends and snicker.
While my family supported me sharing my opinions, the reaction from my classmates eventually caused me to stop participating in classes — I was tired of being seen as supposedly too much or too intense.
During my first semester at Pepperdine, I took the first of the Great Books in the program with Prof. Jeffrey Schultz. He encouraged all of his students, not just the extroverted male students, to share their opinions about the books we read. Because of him, I cautiously began to share my opinions again, and I remembered how much I had enjoyed participating in class.
Throughout my time working for the Graphic, I have come to love community-building journalism — I even presented on it at the 2021 Spring National College Media Convention. If you ask anybody on staff about me, they will say that I love writing profiles. I even wrote a profile for our Sports section, even though everybody would agree I know nothing about sports.
When I had the opportunity to be editor-in-chief of the Graphic’s fall 2021 special edition, I knew the topic of opinions was perfect because opinions are like a**holes — everybody has one.
I chose to focus on what students, faculty and administration are passionate and knowledgeable about because connecting with each other is even more important now than it was before. After so much time apart due to COVID-19, we should celebrate what makes us similar and different. Instead of being nervous about how our peers will react, we should take advantage of being back on campus and grow closer in our community.
Even though I chose the topic of this special edition, I could not have done it without the help of my team.
To the writers, thank you for running with my idea and finding so many voices within our community to feature. To the designers, photographers, artists and editors, thank you for making my vision a reality. To my advisers, thank you for continuously supporting me and believing in me throughout the whole process. Finally, to my family, thank you for being my life-long support system.
There are articles within this special edition that explore the current opinion-sharing climate at Pepperdine, the psychology of opinions and the connections between opinions and COVID-19. There is a profile on a student who undergoes a spiritual experience when eating Chick-fil-A sauce. There is also a profile on a student who champions productive disagreement, which is one of the goals of this special edition.
The Pepperdine community is many voices — different genders, ethnicities and political leanings. Creating a special edition with a limited number of articles is challenging because there are always more community members who deserve to be featured. There are also many people who want to use their voices but for a variety of reasons do not feel comfortable having their opinions published. It is my hope that this special edition illustrates not only the background behind why we share our opinions but also the validity and value of both lighthearted and serious opinions.
Most of all, it is my hope that Everybody Has One is only the beginning of a conversation in the Pepperdine community. So, I invite you, no matter what opinions you hold and how frequently you share them, to join me in starting this conversation in our community and beyond.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Contact Rowan Toke on Twitter (@RowanToke) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org