By Jamie Dyer
This past summer I spoke with Dawn Ellinwood and Lou DiMasi regarding how the administration addresses its community. I asked them why St. Mike’s chose to send a mass email comforting and offering support to students who were distraught after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, yet failed to make a comment or express support to those mourning after five police officers were killed in Dallas (an undoubtedly racially charged rampage).
The answer I received was that the administration doesn’t “know how to do this [address incidents in the world] the best way, because of where our world/country is.” Dawn Ellinwood also added, “We are searching for the best way to support all students, and we are open to suggestions.” It appears that things have still not changed; St Michael’s College has continued to handle situations in a politically correct manner which only caters to particular groups.
I implore you to think deeply about this question: do you think these students, who become filled with fear when hearing or seeing something they don’t agree with, will survive in the real world if our community continues to coddle them? I understand that there are certain things which must be addressed and dealt with concerning hateful words and symbols. But, in all honesty, how on earth is a campaign slogan that emphasizes all American’s uniting to benefit the nation considered “disrespectful language” which “appears to be targeted to certain groups, particularly minority groups.”? In no way is the political phrase “Make America Great Again” hate speech or disrespectful language. Some might not agree with the outcome of the election but that is no reason for these people to get upset when they see or hear something they don’t agree with and try to label it “hate speech” in order to silence the other side. Instead students, faculty and, staff should have more of an open dialogue between opposing viewpoints.
At St. Mike’s I have had two Donald Trump signs stolen from me. I did not follow up either incident with Public Safety or Student Affairs. I chose not to do this because I was not in fear for my safety in any way, shape, or form.Rather, I recognized the fact that some of my peers won’t always see eye to eye with me. If they handle opposing views in such a childish manner, that’s their own problem, not mine. An excerpt from the Diversity Statement issued by the Board of Trustees states, “the College is dedicated to fostering a culture of inclusion where individual differences are celebrated, valued and recognized as vital and complementary to the academic experience.” The atmosphere this institution has created is certainly not one of inclusion, as it is not directed to individuals who have opposing views to the majority of the community.
One of the largest minority groups on campus are conservatives, who realize their way of thinking on certain topics are not welcome and in some cases silenced in certain academic settings. I am aware that St Michael’s administration must take action against acts of hate and bigotry, but they should be able to decipher between a deliberate hateful message (i.e. swastika’s), and expression of support for our President. I would be ashamed to see the place I call home discriminate against their students who openly convey their support for something they believe in.
Conservative students, faculty and staff members should all feel comfortable giving their opinion, regardless if people want to hear it or not. I see things everyday on campus that I do not agree with that make me feel uncomfortable. For example, I do not agree with the recent surge in popularity for the Black Lives Matter movement on campus. I find that their rhetoric against the nation’s police officers has led to increased hostilities across the country. Therefore, I choose to support groups like All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, yet I make no effort to demand that the college recognize such things because I understand that I will see and hear many things in my lifetime that I will not agree with and will have to listen to the other side’s point of view. It is part of growing up and developing as both an intellectual and a member of society. Do not condemn the silent minority who dream of making America great again. Our message should be welcomed and discussed amongst our community rather than suppressed.