Know Your Rights

Image from: speakforchange.org

Last night I had my third class of the week, U.S. College Students, which brought a close to the first week of the semester (can you believe it?).  It was an eye-opening introduction to the class and set the stage for a semester of learning about issues that face various populations of students on-campus and populations of individuals across the world.

Have you ever heard someone say “that’s a basic human right”?  Not only have I heard this before from others but have used the term “human right(s)” myself.  It wasn’t until last night that I really gained an understanding of what I and others are saying when using this term.  How many of us really know our human rights?

 According to the United Nations’ official document titled the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human being is entitled to 30 rights.  You may read them all by clicking the link, but I wanted to share a few I think we should all remember as members of the Saint Rose community and as humans interacting with our greater world.

*Don’t discriminate.  We all carry with us a set of visible and invisible identities and unique personal characteristics.  These are aspects of ourselves that should be valued, and we can all learn a great deal about ourselves and others by being open to difference.  Also, as you walk through campus and see individuals with a variety of characteristics, try to remind yourself not to make assumptions, either negative or positive.  There is a good chance our assumptions are incorrect.

*Freedom of thought and expression.  While these are considered two separate rights, they tend to go hand in hand.  Not only do we each have the right to think how we want, but we have the right to express our thoughts and beliefs overtly.  Remember to respect others’ ideas and beliefs, even if they are not in line with your own, and allow for a safe space for discussion both  in and out of the classroom.

*Responsibility.  We have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to respect our collective human rights.  Along with this goes the responsibility to educate others about these  rights.  I encourage everyone to read your human rights and exercise them freely!  Share with your family, friends, roommates, and classmates.

So, as we are kicking off this 2012-2013 academic year, let’s keep in mind our human rights as we each contribute our uniqueness and individual identities to one central place- The College of Saint Rose.

You can find many more informative videos about human rights at youthforhumanrights.org.

What do you think?