We’re writing you to address the Editorial Board piece, “A call for decorum in the DPS gun debate,” which ran on April 21. In recent months, the University has faced three crises of student confidence, two with a negative result and one with a positive one. Let’s recap some of this recent campus activity.
After the University’s Commission on Race & Diversity voted in overwhelming support of banning Yik Yak from University Wi-Fi, President Seligman responded by disregarding that democratic choice and keeping the service on campus. Students decried the result, as their hundreds of hours of activism on the issue were washed away by a single authoritarian decision. The Campus Times Editorial Board, at least according to their internet archives, failed to decry Seligman’s tone-deaf response. The Campus Times didn’t feel the need to criticize President Seligman virtually telling us that our opinion doesn’t matter, but when we emotionally explain our distaste of arming officers with our own money, we’re apparently the right people to single out.
Of course, we don’t disagree with the Campus Times on everything. After all, the Campus Times’ own Editorial Board piece from Feb. 19 says “students should be outraged” about the weak Gale House flooding response. And they’re right. Students were outraged. Students signed petitions, students informed the administration, students let their voice be heard. We were perfect students, in the eyes of the Campus Times. We “confronted [administration] with difficult, […] analytical discussion,” exactly what the Campus Times advocates for. The administration responded in kind… by not making a public comment for over a month. In the end, victims of the Gale flooding received restitution on a case-by-case basis and the administration has all too happily moved on.
This brings us to our newest crisis, which began with an administrative consideration of arming Public Safety officers. This scenario began much like previous ones. The University decided to take an action and students demanded a hearing, an avenue we thought might help us realize a small portion of our leading financial stake in deciding the state of River Campus operations. Once again the school nodded, smiled, and let the students get out their anger before they could make their adult decision. With the failures of Yik Yak and Gale as vivid memories, is it any surprise that we students were angry? Is it any surprise that we had little trust in the school’s new Commission for Allowing Students to Blow off Steam?
And when it became clear the school was once again managing us without listening, interacting, and responding, we acted. We told the University “NO.” We told the University that we would finally have our demands heard… or prospective students and parents would learn of their deafness. The Campus Times decries our tone, but is it any surprise that our actions brought the first positive administration crisis response? Instead of making a final decision over the summer, without the students here to complicate things, they conceded on October, or even later. Moreover, students will now have representation in the decision-making process.
Without impropriety in that discussion, the student body would continue to be voiceless in a decision that, to some, is understood as a direct threat to the security of their lives. Stop criticizing the students who realized that without using tactics higher on the force continuum, we’d never have been offered our fair share of input.
The Campus Times calls our tactics and the rough questioning “hostile.” We call it progress. We call it forcing the school to finally listen to its students and appease its customers. We call it change.
Stephen Wegman and Joey Stephens