Refocus the campus discussion to the victims
We may not all be able to understand the hurt that may have been inflicted on the black students physically present when a Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge read a rap song lyric containing the N-word while they were sitting in Bear’s Den Tuesday night. But that does not mean that many of us do not or should not feel personally affected or pained by the pledges’ actions.
Bear’s Den is a place that we consider part of our home. It is a place where we like to consider ourselves safe, both physically and emotionally.
Much of the campus dialogue over what has happened—particularly on the Student Life website, where commenters may post anonymously—has been notably incendiary and unproductive. Monitoring the comments on our website, we have seen dozens of community members attempt to minimize emotions of hurt as overreactions.
Shaming students for feeling hurt by a racial slur devalues the actual pain that such a word can inflict. It distracts us from needed introspection about pain being inflicted in our community.
Too many students think that we as a community are immune to problems like discrimination or racism, but that is not true. Those who would have us sweep this conversation under the rug detract from others who are trying to help the victims of the situation and prevent future incidents of a similar nature.
The word spoken in Bear’s Den at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning is a word that has, for centuries, been associated with hate and used for oppression. Lyric or not, scavenger hunt item or not, it is a word that should not be said in any circumstance. Using it in front of the group it targets is blatantly offensive.