The Final Response to “The Cistercian Bubble”
January 13, 2020
The purpose of Ethan Ramchandani’s article was to raise awareness of the lack of diversity that contributes to a reaffirmation of a Cistercian student’s viewpoints. This reaffirmation causes students to reject other opinions, and it can cause problems within the student body. As someone with a minority viewpoint, I have encountered this phenomenon already.
The response to the Bubble begins by stating that we should not factor racial and ethnic diversity when evaluating the intellectual community of the school, which I entirely agree with. However, there are five main ideas that the writers bring up that I disagree with. The writers claim that Ethan believes that racial diversity determines political beliefs. The original article never says this; in fact, it says the contrary: “The school’s low diversity should not be seen as part of the problem, because it is not. It is just a factor contributing to the viewpoints of the majority of the student body.” Race does not decide viewpoints, but it does contribute to how we learn. Teachers College Columbia has released a study about diversity, saying that exposure leads to improved cognitive skills, they also noted that 96% of major employers said that it is important for employees to be comfortable with working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. When the writers mention the application process, which Ramchandani never mentions, they say that race should not be a factor. I agree with this; however, I believe that it is not the application process that is flawed, but the number of races/ethnicities that are willing to apply.
The next subject the writers mention is their opinion about Cistercian’s view on non-Catholic religions. They state that the “shared faith allows for a more unified student body.” I am and have been raised a Catholic my whole life. Yet, I have never thought that my form is less unified because of a Protestant, Hindu, atheist, or otherwise non-Catholic member. The next point brought up is that students encounter religions though history classes; the one flaw with this argument is that studying a religion is not the same as actually meeting a practicing member of the religion.
The writers then bring up exposure to opinion. Speaking as a student, most teachers do a great job of exposing multiple viewpoints and sides of an argument. Mr. Joseph had in-class debates, which made many students start thinking about their own views on things like tariffs, or isolationism versus interventionism; classes like these increase exposure to acceptance of particular viewpoints. This does not mean that all students accept the rivaling opinion. I do not deny that students are exposed to many ideas, but there are students who do not accept viewpoints purely because they are different. Reading the Communist Manifesto is getting exposed to a viewpoint that I am almost positive no one at Cistercian agrees with.
The next point is that since Ethan’s article exists, even minority opinions are widely discussed. Speaking as someone with a minority opinion, if I mention a controversial opinion in a conversation, I usually have to justify myself for having my opinion; whereas, if someone says a majority opinion, no one will question it, and people are more likely to listen. Also, Ethan published his article in a student-run newspaper, not one run by the school administration.
The last idea brought up is that Ethan “is addressing a problem that does not exist.” Just to clarify, diversity is beneficial to the school, and Ethan never said that we should favor a racial minority over another. The problem that Ethan is addressing is that students hear opinions, but certain students refuse to listen to them. The Cistercian environment is always open to hearing different opinions; however, some students dismiss ideas too quickly just for being different.