Student addresses recent campus tensionBy JONATHAN BALMER
When I first heard about a “racial incident” and “racial slurs,” my reaction consisted of outwardly expressed questions, because of genuine curiosity and unexpressed indifference. “So someone said the N-word?” I thought. Sure, it’s bad, but why is it such a big deal now? I hear it every day from people of various backgrounds. Besides, I get the message: racism is bad. I read “To Kill a Mockingbird.” To say I misjudged the weight of the situation is an understatement. The next day in class, my professor explained Tevin Lloyd, our classmate and my friend, faced racial slurs and threats outside the Kappa Alpha house while with the vast majority of his fraternity brothers. It took this sobering knowledge, that my friend was threatened with bodily harm and verbally attacked, to shake my dispassionate outlook and raise my alarm. Sadly, many students lacked an understanding of what happened on our campus. The awful reality hid behind officious words.
Georgetown College’s administration responded early with obscurely-worded reports of a “racial incident” on campus. The opening of a Presidential Hotline for racial slurs was met with jokes and slighting remarks spurred by confusion. The removal of last week’s Back Page, rather than protecting the rights of the accused and preventing misinformation (as presumably was intended) failed, sparking rumors and plaguing the campus with speculation and half-truths while betraying the trust of students in the administration to allow any real journalistic freedom. The humanity in the situation was lost.
This is not only to endlessly complain about the administration’s actions. In good faith, I accept President Crouch’s apology on behalf of the college for their initial unpreparedness. Dr. Gambill, to his credit, sent an email dispelling some rumors and encouraging students to contact him to resolve confusion. I thank Dr. Crouch, as well, for making himself readily available both in increased office hours and through his presence in the cafeteria after Monday’s assembly. Speaking with him personally helped answer many of my questions. The vision he presented to grow a stronger campus community is commendable.
President Crouch, during Monday’s assembly, insisted the KAs can recover from their mistakes and should be judged by their actions. I agree. Nevertheless, the “apology,” which remains unavailable at the time this article was written, is of dubious merit at best if the organization truly knows, and continues to hide, the perpetrator of these hateful words and guilt remains continually denied. An apology with no admission of guilt, made with any hint of insistence the conflict was instigated and not one’s own fault, is not an apology at all. Even a sincere communal apology means nothing if the guilty individual(s) are still protected by the community.
It is important to note, there are eight students who are not Kappa Alphas who live in the Kappa Alpha house. That said, it is unlikely that there is not a single K.A. who heard or knows who living within their walls threatened one of their fellow students. If there is a collective silence, or reluctance, to identify the person who hatefully threatened another, it should only be considered blatant obstruction of justice— whoever or whatever body is involved. There is no innocent neutral that knows of immoral hatred and threats of violence and does nothing to stop it. I sincerely hope their apology proves me wrong on these suspicions and I wish the investigation its best. Forgiveness should be extended but we must also demand accountability.
The secrecy of fraternity or sorority brother or sisterhood must never infringe upon the common brotherhood of humankind. If we should entertain the cloud-of-witnesses to the slurs and threats as anything more than compulsive liars, which we should, perhaps the solution is to apply more pressure than probation. Protecting blatant violence-advocating hatred which causes students to feel unsafe as a member of our community, in any way, is unacceptable.
At the same time, the K.A. Order is not the unredeemable villain. This is no fraternity spitting-match. Actions of their members indicate a lingering problem rearing its horrid head once more, not any inherent evil nature.
Finally, it is one matter to muddle one’s judgment with emotion. It is another entirely to segregate our hearts and minds and fail to sympathize with, and act in support of, other human beings’ justified fears and frustration with the evil done against him or her. I pray that I, and we as a college, can avoid falling into either trap again. Let us not forget this is not merely an “incident,” but there is a person, a Georgetown student, reasonably shaken by these threats (and many others shaken vicariously).
During our first semester I went with several others to church one Sunday when you preached. You spoke out of Jeremiah and a few places in the New Testament and told all of us, “God has got your back.” God has your back too. So does Georgetown College, your fraternity brothers, your friends and so do I.
Your brother in Christ,
Editor presents the facts about censorshipBy TORI BACHMAN-JOHNSON
Last week, Perry Dixon’s original Back Page article made two specific references that members of the administration had preemptively asked not to be printed in The Georgetonian in order to protect the identities of GC students (since then, outside media has become involved, naming the groups that I was asked not to identify). Administrators did not read Perry’s article, and neither did our staff advisor; I read it and told him that we would have to change his two references, and only those two references.
Rather than changing the references, Perry made the choice, as Back Page Editor, to run two sentences in place of his article: “The original content of this article has been removed. This Editor has asked that nothing be printed in its place in protest.”
Many people have assumed these lines to mean that someone, perhaps an administrator or me, forced Perry to remove the entirety of his article, and that is not the case.
However, this incident has stirred up questions and concerns about censorship in The Georgetonian that are worth addressing. In an attempt to answer those questions, here are some lines from the contract I signed when I became editor-in-chief:
“The Georgetonian, a student newspaper, is owned and published by Georgetown College.” “The President is the publisher” and “the Provost, on behalf of the President, serves as the Publisher.” “Historically and legally, Freedom of the Press under the First Amendment is freedom of the publisher from government interference. This freedom bestows the right…to establish policy for the publication and to determine the editorial stand of the publication. The establishment of these policies supports responsible journalistic expression and the learning process.”
Continuing on, here are several publication standards: “A publication must reflect the purpose of the College, its Christian perspective, and an awareness of its Baptist heritage.” Also, “the publication must have a view towards positive value for the College in what it reports.”
Finally, “Opinion pieces may be critical if they are consistent with the publication standard outlined in this document, affirm the values espoused by the College, and reflect the assumption that decisions or actions of the College are made with the ultimate good of the College in view. The right of the publisher to establish policies for the newspaper is not censorship historically or legally.”
To summarize: The College’s President and the Provost are, as the publishers of The Georgetonian, protected by the First Amendment. However, Freedom of the Press is not extended to those who write for The Georgetonian. This policy, according to the law, is not censorship.
Interpret as you will.