On Sept. 28, NYU Abu Dhabi’s Debate Union held a small debate on the popular issue of anonymous posting and its effects on campus culture and the broader image of NYUAD. The debate consisted of two teams, each composed of three students, with one team arguing that anonymous posting pages are beneficial while the other that they are harmful.
The team in favor of anonymous posts was made up of Benjamin Roberts, Pranaav Parth and Gaurav Pande, all Class of 2021. Madhav Juneja, Artem Misiurenko — both Class of 2020 — and Herbert Crowther, Class of 2021, argued that the posts are harmful to the community.
Both teams made arguments that highlighted some of the key issues surrounding Facebook pages like NYUAD Confessions or NYUAD Crushes and Compliments. The team arguing for anonymous posting advocated for freedom of speech and giving a voice to minorities on campus while the opposing side countered that these posts tend to reveal a more vicious, less accurate version of opinions on campus.
After the two teams presented their arguments, questions were encouraged from the audience. A final vote was taken after the debate concluded and the side in favor of anonymous posting won. The idea for the debate under the palms came from the Debate Union’s Vice President, Herbert Crowther.
Debate Union member and speaker, Benjamin Roberts, hopes that many more of these events can be held throughout the year, possibly on topics that relate to and interest the student body. When asked about his thoughts on the topic of Saturday’s debate, Roberts reiterated his passion for the topic.
“I guess I truly believe what I said in my speech, which is that there’s a sort of tribal, regressive left on campus and in a lot of college campuses. It discourages freedom of opinion and thought because it rushes to claim the moral high ground and if you disagree with them, you are immediately completely morally deficient,” said Roberts.
He further stressed the importance of anonymity on these forums. “On this campus where we strive to have such freedom of thought and diversity, anonymous posting is an important way to keep that going when the campus culture is increasingly shifting in that direction,” remarked Roberts. “It’s … nice to see these issues discussed in a mature and civil way.”
On the other hand, Madhav Juneja, of the opposing team, was vocal about his disapproval of the online forums.
“Observing the online forums for the last few months, I felt that most of the content was toxic and not beneficial to the community,” said Juneja.
Juneja further explained that the toxic content was not the only problem but also that “the voices that needed to be heard [weren’t] being heard by the right person.” Juneja felt that, even though the team arguing that anonymous posts are beneficial won, the turnout proved that students are willing to discuss these issues outside of the online fora.
Juneja agreed with Roberts on the positive impact that more debates could have on campus dialogue. He described the event on Sept. 28 as a “crucial evolution on the kind of dialogue happening on campus.”
Although unconfirmed for now, members of the NYUAD Debate Union are hoping to host similar events in the future to promote further dialogue on campus.
Mari Velasquez-Soler is Deputy News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org