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Letter to the editor: Comments more concerning than content

Schuyler Atkins | Class of 2016

My name is Schuyler Atkins, and I am a freshman here at Washington University. I am writing you concerning your recent article about the suspension of Sigma Alpha Epsilon activities involving racially charged action. My concern is not about the content of your article, but rather the comments that have been made on the article.

First of all, I believe that everyone, regardless of opinion, should be able to comment on the articles on this website. However, I also believe that the possibility of anonymity concerning the posters of these comments has allowed for offensive and hurtful comments to be made on this particular article. While my own feelings towards these comments may not be your concern, I believe that the feelings of prospective students should be both your concern and the concern of the university, in general. In a few weeks, students will receive their acceptance letters to Washington University. Some of those students will be attending finalist weekend for the Ervin, Rodriguez and Danforth Scholars Programs. Even more of those students will attend Celebration Weekend in April. Even students who attend neither of these weekends will undoubtedly peruse the Washington University Facebook group, and all of these students will eventually stumble upon this article (if they haven’t already).

I firmly believe that the comments associated with this article can and will serve as a great deterrent for many prospective Washington University students. If I were a prospective student, and I read some of the comments on that article, I would never even consider attending Washington University, and many of my friends feel the same way. I firmly believe that difference in opinion and controversy can be starting blocks for productive discussion, but the majority of these comments are far from productive. They are inflammatory and hard to stomach, for both minority students and for students who believe in the value of diversity and a campus that engenders that diversity.

I strongly suggest that you halt all possibility of commenting on this article in an anonymous, online forum, if for nothing else than the sake of the future of Washington University. These comments paint a picture of a student body that is unpleasant, hateful and bigoted. It may be impossible for you to erase these comments, but it would be wonderful if you could stop any new ones from being posted, at least for the time being, while emotions are high concerning the incident. This request comes from a concerned student who would like to see the university grow as a community year by year, and I worry that these comments could slow that growth.

Thank you for reading this message, and I hope you take my worries (and the worries of many) into consideration.

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