February 17, 2011 Volume CXXIX Issue 4

In Defense of Kappa Alpha (Controversial, hm?)

By PERRY DIXON
The Boy Who Lived

Dr. Crouch does not do everything wrong. Typing such words is excruciatingly painful (like stabbing oneself with a hot iron or yanking eyebrows out with super glue and sandpaper). Dr. Crouch did not sit in his office, receive The Georgetonian prior to printing last week, and physically pull the small paragraph of the Back Page from the paper. In that strict sense, censorship was not committed. However, what officials above those who run the paper did do, was prevent The Georgetonian from printing facts regarding the incident that occurred on Feb. 2, (the same facts expressed, essentially, regarding the location and nature of the incident by Dr. Crouch a few days later). Controlling or stifling the flow of information is not something permissible for any Administration Government, or what-have-you. The student body and faculty have a right to be properly informed. This is a fact. Additionally troubling was the comment made to this Editor this past week by someone in whom we should be Trusting, claiming that, “The tail will not wag the dog” in reference to the obvious threat those above feel from public criticism. Quite clearly, the student body, including this paper, and this Editor, transcend the influence and intelligence of a mere tail on a domestic animal.

It is evident that the Administration has grossly mishandled the past two weeks from the beginning and simply was not prepared for an incident of this type. There are so many things that could have been handled differently, including this own Editor’s words in the paper last week, that it is difficult to find a place from which it is appropriate to begin. One might start with the suggestion that it is absolutely ridiculous that the faculty were not informed of the incident until Thursday, Feb. 10. The faculty should have been emailed or contacted with updates on the situation with facts as they became evident from the moment that the Administration had enough information to make up a statement with three or four sentences. The Administration is also at fault for ambiguity in the language of all of the PR messages up until the Assembly held this past Monday. Because the situation was not addressed explicitly and rationally, rumors, lies and false accusations were able to spread all over campus until it became necessary for police officers to sit in the quad each night. There is no question that the “N” word was used maliciously by one student toward another in a location now identified by the College. However, details beyond this fact, including the degree to which the guilty individual(s) is associated with Kappa Alpha, remain at this time unclear. It matters whether or not the individual was pledge or active, just as it matters whether or not the individual(s) is associated with Kappa Alpha beyond living in their dorm. Until these facts are investigated and determined, such public punishment for the entire chapter is both too soon and too harsh.

There is certainly a serious problem with the way the Kappa Alpha house has been treated regarding this incident. Of course, the reputation that is historically associated with the organization plays a role, but the individuals of Georgetown’s chapter must be legitimized for their attempts towards distancing themselves from such a perception. As a direct result of the mishandling of this incident by the College, the Kappa Alpha Order has been subject to harassment, threats, alienation and public shame that so far remain unjustified. Such harsh sanctions would be appropriate if the organization were to knowingly promote and endorse racist activity, but that simply is not the case. What should have been allowed was the opportunity for the Kappa Alpha Order to act for the sake of their own integrity and expel the individual responsible for such a cowardly act from either their own ranks or the ranks of those associated with them in general. If Georgetown intends to care for all of its students, the reach of concern certainly should extend to encompass the Kappa Alpha house as well. Though there is an immediate reaction to search for a scapegoat to appease the media and college community, the dignity of each individual and organization must be respected first. It seems odd to assert that there is still ambiguity regarding specifics of the incident, claim the College is not “about punishment” but then immediately afterwards crucify an entire organization for the actions of an individual or a few individuals. If there were an organization that truthfully was a bastion of pervasive and public racial intolerance present in each member, regardless of its name, it should be removed. As it stands, there is no such organization on our campus (for those in other organizations in disagreement, consider the situation were it to come from your own house or affiliation).

The incident that occurred on campus on Feb. 2 of this semester was not one unique to Georgetown’s history. It should not be downplayed and it should not be forgotten. It is a reality check for the student body and those who govern (not by Divine Right, but by election).The problem is that things may only be swept under the rug for so long until a volatile incident actually explodes, causing damage enough to attract news stations from both Louisville and Lexington. The Georgetown community has suffered due to a lack of preparation and an emotionally charged situation that only could have been handled properly with a concrete plan already in place. Perhaps new legislation will be sufficient for any future incidents of this kind.

Though there was no explicit apology in the statement made by Dr. Crouch on Monday, the Administration is obviously owning some degree of responsibility and taking steps to move forward from the past two weeks. It is the responsibility of the student body to move forward as well, for the benefit of the entire Georgetown community, top to bottom. Georgetown is not divided with a massive chasm between black and white, or majority and minority, such that the Armageddon is upon us. Anyone in the library, or the gym, or the hallway, or the dormitory, will see that skin color is not a barrier for relationships on campus unless a sick individual were to make it so. Georgetown is a community without a concrete identity and it is up to each individual to foster an environment that is productive and constructive so that our identity may be formed without such missteps. A necessary part of the formative process the College is going through is allowing critical discourse to be present as well. A Quote: “ . . . that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.” From John Milton, in his Aeopagitica.

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