My name is Connor Torossian, and I am a SGA Senator from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Last semester my friend Morgan Bodenarain, executive president of SGA, invited me to the N-Word Forum, an event organized by the Black Student Union. Before she asked me to go, I had seen posters promoting the event around campus and, to be honest, had no interest in attending. But Bodenarain insisted I attend with her.

The second we walked into the room, I noticed that I was in the minority. This was an experience I have never had as a white student on Elon University’s campus. The forum was about the use of the “n-word.” Being white in a room of nearly all minority Elon students, this was an extremely uncomfortable feeling. Rarely would I intentionally put myself in a situation in which I knew I would be uncomfortable, but this was an exception.

In a discussion on a PowerPoint presentation on the origin of the word, I heard multiple comments, some with which I disagreed, and I mustered the confidence to stand up and make a comment from my own perspective. It was widely disagreed with, and an interesting discourse followed.

After hearing many different perspectives on the idea, my own opinion on the topic of discussion changed in a way. The conversation showed me that putting oneself in an uncomfortable situation with a group of people with differing opinions truly open a person’s mind to new ways of thinking about a topic.

This is why it is very important for everyone to respectfully engage in conversation about uncomfortable topics with people that disagree with you because one of two things will happen: Either you will end up strengthening your own beliefs, or you will end up changing your beliefs. Both can be positive outcomes.

I challenge you to question the beliefs you strongly hold by talking to someone with a different viewpoint. Go to a campus event that you do not want to attend so that you are exposed to new ideas. If all of us do this often, our society will become more civically engaged and educated.