A “Spark” of Truth: Responding to The Cistercian Bubble

November 22, 2019


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SPAK: Racial and ethnic diversity is not something to be considered when evaluating the intellectual community of a school.  What we should be looking at instead is diversity of thought, the real catalyst for discussion and fruitful pursuit of truth.  In the article “The Cistercian Bubble,” Ethan Ramchandani proposes that due to a perceived lack of racial diversity, Cistercian is unable to thrive as a bastion of free thinking and a haven of enlightened debate.  However, what he fails to realize is that the color of one’s skin is not the sole factor that determines one’s beliefs.  Not all people who are white have the same beliefs, so why does it hold that all people of a different race have the same beliefs?  Ramchandani claims that racial diversity is necessary for the diversity of thought that we should seek. It thus follows that a student’s race would be factored in during the admissions process.  But, by nature, such a process would be racist.  Judging applicants on the color of their skin and not on the content of their character is a clear violation of their basic human rights.  We cannot adopt a system that prioritizes this violation of human rights.  It doesn’t matter whether a student is black or white or green or purple.  All applicants should be given the opportunity to compete on the same playing field.

VAN KIRK: One of the intended consequences of the founding of Cistercian was to have a large number of students who share the same religious beliefs.  The monks from Hungary established the school so they could not only educate young men academically but also spiritually in the Catholic faith.  This shared faith allows for a more unified student body, which is not a weakness.  Cistercian does not raise their students under a so-called “sheltered bubble” which isolates them from other viewpoints.  The school actually exposes them to many other religions throughout their eight years as students, especially during history classes like World Civilizations.

SPAK: Now as for the claim that Cistercian fails to expose its students to other viewpoints, I could not disagree more with this statement.  As a sophomore, not even including the other years I have spent at Cistercian, I read the Communist Manifesto and had a round table discussion regarding it, read countless arguments and counterarguments for and against various theological positions, took part in a lively classroom debate regarding gender dysphoria, and much more.  This very summer, every single junior had to read W. E. B. DuBois’ famous The Souls of Black Folk, a highly acclaimed dissection of the discrimination towards blacks in the United States in the 20th century.  At every step of the way, we had discussions over the various viewpoints we were being exposed to.  In fact, the very existence of Ethan’s article proves that at Cistercian, we welcome dissenting opinions and that we can discuss in pursuit of the truth.  If Cistercian failed to show its students other opinions, would Ethan’s opinion (which differs from most students’ opinions) ever have been printed by the school-sponsored newspaper on the front page and delivered to every desk in the school?

VAN KIRK: In “The Cistercian Bubble,” Ethan Ramchandani hopes that Cistercian will accept more young students with different racial backgrounds and political beliefs.  Although diversity by chance may be beneficial, I believe it would be unfair to favor one student over another simply because the student represents a racial minority.  This would be as absurd as accepting more left-handed students to the school so that the number of left-handed and right-handed students is almost equal.  As for political diversity, Ethan says, “We must strive to seek the truth, which in turn will help us understand the opinions and beliefs of others in their own pursuit of truth.”  The problem at Cistercian is not understanding others’ opinions; it is agreeing with them.  For example, one student said that refugees coming up from Central America should fix their countries instead of coming to the U.S.  Although this reasoning is logical, Ethan thinks it is problematic that this student dismissed the possibility that the refugees may have been more likely to die if they had stayed in Central America.  I believe Ethan is addressing a problem here that does not exist.  If he disagrees with what this student says, then clearly not everyone has the same viewpoint.  Ethan seems to expect that someone who holds an opinion about something has taken into account all other opinions on the matter.  I think it is good to know different opinions, but it is unreasonable to assume that everyone is aware of all sides.  The Cistercian environment has and always will be open to hearing different opinions, and students should feel free to share their thoughts without the fear of being disregarded.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of The Cistercian Informer.

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