University campuses are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas. Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-partisan and ideological world, there are those who want to close the marketplace to all but their own brands.

Much attention has focused on UCLA in recent weeks as four members of a student council raised questions over whether it would be a potential conflict of interest for an observant Jew to sit on a judicial panel that might hear protests against Israel. The four have apologized and the nomination went through. Subsequently, posters appeared in and around campus vilifying Students for Justice in Palestine. Neither incident reflects favorably on the principle of honest and open-minded discourse.

The specter of the confrontational and volatile politics of the Middle East hangs over much of what has been going down on university campuses. It is sad that opposition to the actions of the Israeli government seems to morph into attitudes among some that suggest anti-Semitism. This is ironic since views of the Israeli government and policies are sharply divided within the American Jewish community. It is heartening that the UCLA student government has voted unanimously to approve a strong resolution condemning anti-Semitism, but a shame that such a resolution was needed.

Protests, demonstrations and the voicing of strongly held views are part of the university tradition. What is wrong is the suppression of ideas and viewpoints through disruptive behavior or blackballing speakers or performers because of their religion, nationality, ethnicity or ideology. Learning is not about everyone agreeing with each other.

There is an alternative.   When the famed Batsheva Dance Company of Israel kicked off its Jubilee tour of America last fall under the auspices of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, there was the potential for boycotts, disruptions and confrontation.  Instead, Kristy Edmunds—the Director of CAP-UCLA reached out widely on campus and encouraged and hosted wide ranging discussions around the presence of the acclaimed dance troupe. Questions were raised about the role of arts in society: the burden of being perceived as representing a government whose policies are at odds with the artists’ sensibilities, the ways in which the arts can have a constructive influence on culture and, in some cases, on public policies and much more. A candid question and answer session with Ohad Naharin, Batsheva’s artistic director, at Royce Hall was a highlight of the visit—along with the stunning dance performances. The presence of gifted artists on campus provides food for thought and insight.

“Batsheva is a voice that inspires authentic change because it reconnects us to the recognition of responsible humanity.” Kristy Edmunds said at the time. As a presenter in this situation, she added, “you can either duck a potential controversy and put your head in the sand or seek to create a constructive dialogue.”

Today’s society is increasingly populated by people who hear only their own side of the story (i.e. Fox News and MSNBC viewers). That is not what learning is all about. We don’t need silos of polemics enforcing their own particular standards of political correctness. Our campuses are places where students and the community must be exposed to all perspectives and all sides of the issues and to the wonder and joy of a wide variety of artistic and cultural experiences.

Alan M. Schwartz is a Los Angeles based investor and community leader.  He serves on the Board of Visitors for UCLA School of Arts and Architecture the Board of Directors of the Center for the Performance of Art at UCLA (CAP-UCLA).