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In January 2016, I transferred to Binghamton University with hopes of turning my academic career up a notch. There is no doubt I got what I expected, with classes and faculty challenging me in ways I had not experienced before. As an English major, one of the first steps I took was looking into a school paper for which I could write. In Pipe Dream, I found it, and thus began my career as a columnist for BU’s largest and oldest student newspaper.

My aim as a writer for Pipe Dream has always been simple: to challenge students’ strongest political dispositions. I took this approach not to be difficult or even to voice my personal opinions, but to introduce some diversity of thought to a campus that is rather politically one-sided. This would eventually lead me to express views on abortion, the wage gap, social-welfare programs and other contentious issues. It should go without saying that I received a bit of flak for my positions.

I proceeded to write controversially despite such opposition because I saw something extremely destructive happening on college campuses, including ours. Namely, civil and honest debate regarding facts has been replaced by a pseudo-intellectual, totalitarian doctrine of radical leftism and identity politics. This phenomenon was not new when I arrived. It had been occurring for the better part of the last decade, but has certainly grown worse since the 2016 presidential election.

Instead of thinking on their own, people have engaged in groupthink, which leads to narrow, politically motivated conclusions. Instead of championing the facts, people have made their feelings paramount. Instead of being united by truth, people have been divided by tribal identity. Not only do all of these trends lead to a more bitter, polarized state of politics, but they also undermine American values, such as individualism and freedom.

In light of such dogmatism, I implore students to take an alternative approach. Question everything. Hear opinions from each side and assess the factual basis for both. Watch CNN and Fox News. Read The New York Times and National Review. Absorb information insatiably, to the point where being anything but intellectually well-rounded would be impossible. Few better opportunities exist than the four years spent at college to learn as much as you can and decide which path in life is the most meaningful. Instead of partaking in the protest and hysteria, cherish this time and the unique freedom it gives you — time that, for me, is now coming to an end.

I would like to thank BU for accepting me back in November 2015. I would like to thank Pipe Dream for amplifying my voice, despite it being of a different tone. I would like to thank my professors, who bequeathed knowledge to me that I will cherish for a lifetime. And I would like to thank my friends, for making the path toward graduation all the more worth it.

As I leave college and this polarized state behind, I reflect on the words of Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” So let’s go ahead and not destroy ourselves. Seems reasonable enough, right?

Farewell, BU. It’s been a privilege.

Brian Deinstadt is a senior double-majoring in political science and English.