Whether it’s news on television, radio or on social media, one might find that politics across the nation seem to be rampant with incivility.
College campuses, however, can be viewed as a safe space, or an inclusive environment for people who come from all different types of backgrounds and beliefs.
College campuses also can be a place in which the barrier of incivility can be broken, and politics can be engaged in a civil manner.
“We make sure we hold political discussions to a certain level of civility,” said Paul Landow, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for over 20 years. “We have many open discussions in my classes.”
He added that there are typically multiple sides to every argument and that “everybody has a shot at it and we talk things through.”
The political “tilt” of the classroom varies from class to class, but Landow suggested that since President Trump was elected, “it seems like now there are more liberals and progressives in the classes than there were in the past, compared to a few years ago.”
Whether that actually has anything to do with the president, he said, was hard to say.
One of Landow’s most important rules while in class is that “you do not belittle or ridicule others.”
He also shared that he rarely gives his opinion on a political issue. “I bend over backwards not to give my own opinion, because I do not feel like my opinion is relevant. I would much rather bring out the political opinions in my students.”
To gain a perspective on the political climate at UNO from a student’s point of view, Joshua Crnkovich, a sophomore economics major who is also the vice president for the conservative student group, Turning Point USA, shared his experience.
“People are pretty moderate in general at UNO,” he said.
Because Crnkovich is an economics student, he said, he believed the business school is a little more conservative. “Even the professors are more conservative, but we rarely go into politics in those classes.”
Crnkovich also has experience promoting his conservative student group TPUSA on campus.
“Every once in a while someone will come up and have their guard up, and they will be a little confrontational, but we do not want to have those interactions with people, so we will try and diffuse those situations,” Crnkovich said. “Nine out of 10 times we will end up having a good conversation, and they will stick around.”
Overall, Crnkovich said he has experienced a positive political climate on campus and nothing like he has seen portrayed on the news.
Nate Johnson, a junior at UNO studying political science and sociology who is also the president of the College Democrats, agreed with Crnkovich.
“In most of my classes I would say we have run of the mill discussions surrounding politics,” Johnson said. “Our professors do a good job at letting us as students facilitate our own discussion on issues.”