Appeal to reason

“If the Knox administration stifled public speech and discourse about tough issues, if students were not allowed to gather or make recommendations for change, if it were against the rules to challenge the administration, then posters glued to the walls would be justified. However, all of these things are allowed to happen. In fact, Knox prides itself on the level of participation in administrative decisions that it allows students to have.” ~TKS Staff, Thoughts from the Embers, March 4, 2010.

It is in this spirit of public speech and discourse that I, a student who graduated winter term and should be significantly more concerned about interesting things like gaming, overpriced and ineffective healthcare bills and whether or not my resumes have been reviewed by potential employers, find myself called back into the fray to expose what I view as predominantly destructive attitudes held by certain members of the campus community.

APA [Alliance for Peaceful Action]. ESF [Estudiantes sin Fronteras]. I understand that these issues are important to you, and that you feel that the administration has not done enough to address them. I am also happy that you have the perseverance to stand up for what you believe in — not enough people in this world do. However, TKS’s failure to print your opinion is not automatic “evidence” of a vast authoritarian conspiracy on the administration’s or paper staff’s behalf to stifle your beliefs. Before you decided to accuse an award-winning student paper of censorship, perhaps you should have asked for some kind of explanation as to why your ad was not printed. If you did ask for an explanation, you did not explain the result of this request to the campus body in your ultimatum. We deserve to know so that we can make an informed decision whether or not to act based on the validity of your claims.

Regarding your statement itself, there are several issues that need to be addressed before you or anyone who agrees with you can take reasonable action using your rationale as a guidepost:

-Your Campus Call to Action assumes that “SASS demands” and therefore your demands are representative of the majority of sexual assault victims. Do you know this? If so, how?

-Your demand of a specifically female post-trauma counselor is ironically sexist, and the position, if created, should be given to the individual who is best equipped to help assaulted students through this incredibly trying period in their lives.

-Your wording regarding an “institutionalized program for men regarding date rape” is vague; if your intended meaning is “a program that all men must attend to discourage them from sexual assault,” I will again call your demands sexist, as not all sexual assault perpetrators are men.

-Your claim that your demands are apolitical cannot be taken seriously, as you demand that at least two members of SASS be in the Grievance Panel Taskforce and you also demand that caucuses be held for “women, Students of Color…” and so forth.

-I would also note that such caucuses rarely provide a comprehensive survey of members that they ostensibly represent, as there exists a proportion of women, LGBTQ, etc. students who do not define themselves by traits that they themselves have no control over. They do not feel beholden to groups that ostensibly advocate for their rights while simultaneously emphasizing ‘special differences’ between the general public and the repressed group in question.

-Your demand that a date-rape test be performed on any student brought to the hospital on substance-related complications is very questionable when held up against the Fourth Amendment.

It is entirely possible to take action without considering the ramifications and logic of one’s own beliefs. However, I strongly question the judgment and wisdom of doing so. Knox is a college where we are taught to continually self-examine and if you consider your statement to campus as a good collective representation of your opinions, I would urge you all to step back from the issue, cool off, and try to look at the issue more objectively. I understand your frustration, but before you can hope to bring about changes on campus, you must be willing to make compromises. In all of the issues that you have brought forth this year—Killer Coke, now this—I have not seen this willingness; it is very telling that you label your list of suggestions as “demands.” You cannot reasonably hope for the administration or the majority of students to support you based solely on emotive appeals and yet you seem indignant that this is not the case. I believe that you have fundamentally good motivations for your words and for your actions, but until you are willing to both reflect and compromise, anything that you say or do has little hope of being beneficial.

Mike Herbert

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