Staff Editorial: ‘Change my mind” booths spark discussion around societal issues


Gabe Kaplan

Junior Will Schwietering engages in a conversation with a Park student who happened to pass by his booth in the halls. The interaction was recorded by Schwietering's peer Bryce Bonine for their IB English SL class.

As part of an IB English SL project, juniors Will Schwietering and Bryce Bonine set up “change my mind” booths where they stated an opinion and encouraged other students to change their mind. The controversial topics included male privilege and the 2nd Amendment, with one booth stating “I’m Pro Gun. Change my mind,” and another stating “Male privilege doesn’t exist. Change my mind.”

The Editorial Board applauds these students, as their booths, put up on Dec. 4 and Dec. 6, created room for open dialogue and important discussions around topics that affect our community. It is always difficult to keep a civilized and rational conversation while talking about controversial topics, but these booths encourage staff and students alike to be open-minded towards others’ perspectives. Additionally, booths like these lessen the likelihood of defensive and overly aggressive conversations about sensitive subjects like gun reform and gender equality.  

The board also believes the “change my mind” booths are a positive change for Park as they bring new ideas and perspectives to light and allow students to express their voices. It should be recognized that it is very rare to find communities as accepting as St. Louis Park, and many high school students may not realize the atmosphere at several colleges and universities is drastically different. It is important to know the best way to conduct discussions around controversial issues, as students will have to face less accepting environments in the future, and will be introduced to a wider array of ideologies. The “change my mind” booths are a good way to teach students how to approach future encounters with people who may hold opposing opinions.

The Editorial Board encourages students to participate in open dialogue around any topic they may feel is important to discuss, and to approach discussions with an open mind. It is also important to make sure all voices are heard and not to silence anyone whose views may not align with yours. At Park, all students are welcomed to express their voice in an appropriate manner, however, the liberal voice is heard most. The board believes the conservative voice should be allowed to be expressed more freely since Park tends to be liberal-leaning, as shown by the school’s mock elections earlier this year.

Finally, the board challenges students and staff to further examine their own views and to educate themselves on important and pressing societal issues at Park. If one enters a discussion around a topic they feel strongly about and does not have facts to support their viewpoint, they cannot expect to have a meaningful dialogue. The best conversations formulate out of knowledge, passion, and respect.