To agree or disagree

The Marketplace of Ideas is a new club devoted to discussion and debate.

More stories from Kelly Holm

With spring semester now in full swing, students have had to get used to plenty of changes- new professors, new classes, maybe even a new adviser after declaring a major. In terms of extracurricular life, however, there’s also plenty of change to go around. A new discussion and debate club, the Marketplace of Ideas, has officially formed on campus.

While its founder,  junior Bashir Imady, had long been having dialogues with his friends similar to those now had in the Marketplace of Ideas, it wasn’t until recently that he decided to expand this idea to a club.  

“Basically, me and a few of my friends didn’t feel as though the university was providing the intellectual space for students to grow… [They weren’t] challenging them or taking their student life seriously,” Imady said. “Infantilizing students, making them out to be these people you just kind of spout at, and you don’t think that they can actually provide important contributions to discussions.”

This perceived lack of intellectual stimulation, Imady was Imady’s main motivation for creating an officially-recognized discussion club.

“Basically, the Marketplace is about allowing students to think for themselves. It’s a place for people to share their opinion- especially if it’s wrong,” Imady said. “People don’t grow… if they never share [their beliefs]… Without the space for intellectual discussion, the vast majority of opinions are dead.”

During their first few meetings so far, members of the Marketplace of Ideas have had no shortage of topics to discuss. Past debates have centered around everything from economic systems to movies, and the subject being explored at the beginning of the two-hour meeting usually morphs into a discourse about something completely different by the end.

Imady described a recent discussion on athleticism, held in the shadow of the Winter Olympics, as particularly engaging.

“[The discussion] had a lot of people on both sides, and so the debate was very rich in disagreement, as a lot of people had very strong opinions on the subject,” Imady said. “Some people were very critical of athleticism, others were very supportive of it.”

The most rewarding aspect of the group, in his eyes, was how much his own opinions have changed since the club’s genesis.

“When people first have a belief, they’re very passionate about it, to the point where it’s not fully understood why anyone else could have any contradictory belief,” Imady said. “But in the Marketplace, when you talk to so many smart people who vehemently disagree with you, you are forced to recognize that you only hold the partial truth… It rounds out your character.”

Other members of the group were quick to praise its purposes.

“An important part of growing as a student and a person is listening to the viewpoints of others,” senior Dan Ziebarth said.

In an email interview, junior Ben Heaney pointed out that The Marketplace of Ideas is a vital place for ideas to be spread.

“Something which compounds the issues our country, and world, is facing right now, is a difficulty with talking to each other… [The Marketplace of Ideas] is a place to have those conversations across ideological divides.”

Imady encouraged anyone with an interest in politics to attend a meeting, with the promise of open dialogue with both those who agree and those who disagree. Meetings are held on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in room 104 of Bush Memorial Library.

“There is no agenda with the group, there is no political alignment with the group… It is more neutral than Switzerland in my opinion,” Imady said.