Editorial: Show yourself, speak publicly for change

Posted by the Editorial Board

On Monday March 8, faculty members found posters on their office doors that read "Dear Faculty Member, Your students don't feel comfortable being themselves in your classes. They are targeted, silenced, and marginalized. What have YOU done to make the campus climate better? Sincerely, The Student Body."

To the best of our knowledge, this letter was not actually written by the majority of our student body. Whether it was a disgruntled individual, or a small subset of our community is unclear, but the opinions expressed cannot fairly be interpreted as the voice of the entire campus community.

The posters targeted the faculty as a whole, which not only unfairly insulted and provoked some professors, but also the rest of the student body that does not feel "targeted, silenced, and marginalized."

The student or students who created these posters attacked every professor, rather than specifically confronting the supposed wrongdoer.

There is a time and place for anonymity. An anonymous note directed at a specific professor could prove to be an extremely effective method of critique that would, at the same time, protect the individual from any negative repercussions. Hiding behind a forged signature of the entire student body, however, dilutes the impact of the note and strains the relationship between all professors and their students, which does nothing to solve the problem.

Presenting a note from an anonymous source is cowardly and only undermines what could be a valuable opportunity to consider a potentially serious issue on campus.

The posters leave everyone bitter, rather than making the campus community aware of real issues. Professors feel accused, students who wrote the note still hold their resentment and everyone else feels frustration because they do not understand what these students want.

What could turn into an important campus dialogue will not be addressed unless the student or students who created these posters reveal themselves and share specific examples of why they feel "targeted, silenced, and marginalized."

By falsifying the signature on this letter, the student or students have trivialized what they perceive to be a pervasive issues on campus. While the complaints of an individual may be valid, they lose their legitimacy when that individual hides behind the voice of a falsified group, regardless of how legitimate the actual complaints are.

We should take example from this past spring when students in Mary Stange's "Feminist Theories and Methodologies" class organized a rally to change the culture surrounding sexual assault.

During the rally, victims of sexual assault spoke publicly against their attackers and the school's Sexual Misconduct Policy. By sharing their stories in public, they caught the school's attention and sympathies, and subsequently gained strength through solidarity. The Sexual Misconduct Policy changed because they gained the courage to speak publicly.

We encourage the student or students who created the poster to speak out at one of our many public forums on campus and share your story. We want to hear what you have to say. You will gain strength in numbers, and only then can you reverse your perceived marginalization. But for now we cannot do anything with an ambiguous and unsubstantiated letter.

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