Shut it down

18 Feb

Today’s headline from the University of Mississippi: “Noose tied on Ole Miss integration statue” (http://news.yahoo.com/noose-tied-ole-miss-integration-statue-182314619.html). According to the AP:

The FBI on Tuesday was helping investigate who tied a noose around the neck of a University of Mississippi statue of James Meredith, who, in 1962, became the first black student to enroll in the then all-white southern college.

University police found the rope noose and a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with the Confederate “stars and bars” on its face Sunday morning, said campus police Chief Calvin Sellers. Two men were seen near the statue early Sunday and investigators were looking at surveillance footage.

… “These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values,” [Chancellor Dan] Jones said. “Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue — Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity, and Perseverance.”

Here’s my gut response:

Shut the school down.

If you want to show commit to “unity and educational accessibility,” do not go on with business as usual. Do not teach classes as if the classrooms are safe places for all students to learn. Do not host exciting and informative guests from outside the university to talk about anything other than what is happening on your campus. Do not play your regularly scheduled practices and games, as if being a team is just an athletic concept.

Shut the school down until whoever chose to desecrate the school’s symbol of “courage, knowledge, opportunity and perseverance” steps into the light and owns up to their actions.

Shut the school down because it is not OK for some students to be able to go on with their learning, perhaps a little uncomfortable but ultimately able to distance themselves from the image of a statue that’s been lynched, while other students feel that noose around their own necks.

Shut the school down because this isn’t just about one statue on one campus. This is about hazing at San Jose State (http://politic365.com/2013/11/25/san-jose-state-university-students-accused-of-racial-hazing-local-naacp-pushes-for-felony-charges/) and racist frat parties at Arizona State (http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-asu-fraternity-apology-20140131,0,1723543.story). This is about a national epidemic of young adults not understanding the depth of their identity crisis and the impact of their actions. And why would they understand? We treat these hate crimes like a grand game of Whack-a-Mole: hate pops up! Embarrassed apology accepted! Hate pops up! Grudging apology accepted! Hate pops up! We shake our heads at kids these days, and ready our hammers… This is about a national crisis, so shut the school down.

Shut the school down to act on–not just express–your genuine commitment to every person’s right to safety, and to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Shut the school down so the community learns what education is all about.

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