One of the great values of an American collegiate experience is that students have the chance to engage deeply with differing opinions. To this day, I am grateful for the cornucopia of people, traditions, views, and cultures that I was able to engage with two decades ago when I, then a fairly conservative Jewish teenager, left the East Coast to go West and to college at Stanford University.
I would be lying if I said that there were no evenings when I felt hurt, misunderstood, shocked, and angry when my ideas were challenged and came into conflict with others. But there were far more nights where I was able to connect, learn, and grow in ways unimaginable to me in high school. I certainly remember the frustrations and agony of being challenged, but I remember more powerfully the ecstasy of having my mind opened up to new ideas and changing my opinions when I heard someone or something new. My old dorm even hosted a speaker’s series where huge turnouts were common for guests on both the left and the right and no one shouted down anyone; we even hosted the frequently-protested Dinesh D’Souza without incident.