Anderson-area college students say staff are open to student voice | Education

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ANDERSON — As a mechatronics specialist, Jackson Vieth, 21, a senior at Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, said he rarely encounters free speech issues the way someone studying in other fields such as social sciences or the liberal arts.

“In technology, everything seems to be plain and simple,” he said. “There’s not much to discuss when it comes to electronics. Either it works or it doesn’t. »

But a class for her organizational leadership minor got a little heated when a student said he disagreed with affirmative action.

“They felt like these people were getting jobs rather than people who were equally qualified or maybe made more money,” the Greenfield resident said.

While most of the other classmates disagreed with this sentiment, Vieth believes the professor was open to discussion. Vieth said he tries to find common ground, but tends to get a little liberal.

“In class, the teacher was very good at finding his way around. It wasn’t heated in the room, per se,” he said.

Vieth said he has yet to see a free speech survey, but in his view, the faculty and administration at Purdue Polytechnic respect and even encourage dissenting student opinions.

This diversity of thinking is essential in engineering fields to achieve the best results, he said.

“In engineering in general, you always have to be able to express yourself. If you can’t, all companies would end up with the same set of ideas,” he said. “Men and women think very differently, and it’s valuable to have a different perspective on different issues.”

While it might seem like there isn’t a lot of politics inherent in being an engineer or studying to be one, things can change once the money is on the line, Vieth said. .

“Once you get into the field of engineering management, there’s a lot of money going around, and I imagine people would have a lot of ideas about how that money should be managed.”

The small size of the Purdue Polytechnic campus also tends to encourage constructive expression, Vieth said.

“Part of going to this school is that it’s very small and can talk to your teachers and speak your mind.”

Kyle Oxley, who previously earned an associate’s degree in surgical technology and is working on a second in dental hygiene at Ivy Tech Community College Anderson, said he may have the survey in his emails but that he had not filled it.

Oxley, 25, from Muncie, said he had not encountered any free speech issues and felt free to discuss his needs and opinions with faculty and administration. Ivy Tech. Like Vieth, he added that his chosen fields of study also don’t tend to generate much controversy.

“In fact, at Ivy Tech, I’ve had very positive experiences with the instructors and going to clinical locations,” he said.

While dental hygiene might not seem particularly political at first glance, Oxley said, recent events have shown that even the most unlikely topics could become political. For this reason, he thinks maintaining students’ freedom of expression can be important.

“Freedom of expression is something that should always be protected and should always be available,” he said. “When problems arise, change begins with new ideas, new opinions.”

The need for free speech may also vary depending on whether the campus is a traditional residential campus where students live and interact more frequently or a suburban campus like Ivy Tech’s where students are primarily present for classes, said Oxley, who spent his freshman year of college at Ball State University.

“Once they kind of have you (on a residential campus) and you don’t have any rights, they can find themselves in a situation where your empowerment, your voice can be very limited.”

To follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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