Discourse / Editorials / May 28, 2008

Resistance vs. ignorance

I’m extremely glad that some of the top brass at TKS finally decided to show their true colors through a front-page article on ‘gender equality’ and through an op-ed article about ‘resisting’ Campus Security and the administration — it makes it that much easier to counter arguments when your opponent isn’t trying to hide behind fake walls of impartiality. I’ve been sitting and watching the political and social climate on campus this year with a mixture of amusement (Campus Safety with arrest powers), outrage (Ashcroft), and shock (gender-equal bathroom signs). Of all the controversial ‘platforms’ picked by certain students this year to make themselves heard on campus, I’m extremely surprised that the administration hasn’t clamped down on the student body more than it has. Personally, I believe this is exemplary of how laissez-faire and patient Campus Security and the administration have been in involving the student body as well as its requests and demands.

I’m not going to touch the Ashcroft debate — it’s been covered by every different viewpoint on campus, and I think it’s safe to say that both Ashcroft and many of the protesting students had both their ears and eyes wide shut regarding their own opinions. However, this latest event crosses the bounds between understandable polarization when two extremely different viewpoints clash, and outright ignorance (at best) and vandalism (at worst). Bathrooms are not a good medium for student protest, especially when one decides to take down the original signs so that students get confused and need to go elsewhere in order to relieve themselves. This is not an issue of gender equality — it’s an issue of an innocent student hypothetically winding up before the Grievance Panel on charges of sexual assault.

If the students in question wanted to make their point without defacing school property, a significantly better idea might have been to tape a piece of paper with the image on the door. Nor is this an issue of a breach of Fourth Amendment rights — the police had probable cause to search, especially if these students were in the bathroom alone, according to Texas v. Brown. They also had the right to arrest them for a crime — vandalism — regardless of the intent behind that crime. (Campus Security, did, however, go overboard in the searches after the students’ arrest).

Instead, this is an issue of discourse. Oh, God. There’s that d-word again. It’s a word like ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ that’s been thrown around way too much and has lost virtually all of its practical meaning, but for lack of a better one off of the top of my head, it’ll have to do. One might argue that all these students were doing was a form of discourse — I’d have to disagree. The definition of discourse is a discussion. All that I’ve seen students do on controversial issues this year is yell, scream, shout, replace bathroom signs, and ask attorneys if they have souls during Q&A sessions. Others might argue to abandon this archaic term all together and just let everyone express whatever they want in whatever medium they want. Though this may sound appealing from time to time, we need to remember that it never works in practice.

Pardon me for the cheesy metaphor, but if Student Senate is a shouting match, a lack of any representative body would be the equivalent of standing next to a full-amp rock concert while a nearby jet takes off. It’s important to work within the confines of a machine if it works, regardless of all the imperfections that exist within it. It’s still better than no machine at all. (Crappy metaphor count: 2). Speaking of which, if you feel that this article is in error, feel free to write me back. Unlike Ashcroft, I’ll actually try and answer your legitimate questions to the best of my knowledge. Good luck with finals and have a great summer.

Mike Herbert


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