Yesterday’s News’ View “During vigil, don’t jump to conclusions” was a woefully inaccurate explanation of yesterday’s rally and vigil.
As one of the organizers of yesterday’s rally and vigil, I assure you that we did not jump to the conclusion that someone on campus committed this crime. Furthermore, this rally was not solely a response to the recent incidents of hateful graffiti found on campus but rather to a history of offensive events, many of which the organizers of the rally outlined on signs posted around campus yesterday. Neither myself nor those who helped to plan yesterday’s rally were contacted by the News to inquire if their presumption was true, and thus I must wonder if it was the News who jumped to their own conclusions. This lack of balanced journalism is appalling and I am disappointed that the News incorrectly attributed such conclusions to organizers — an error I hope will soon be corrected.
The News went on to state that the rally “seems more an empty gesture than a substantial opportunity for real dialogue.” The rally was a symbolic gesture of solidarity against hatred on our campus, whether that hatred is perpetrated by unknown persons or members of our Yale community.
What the News failed to mention in their editorial is that those who planned the rally also coordinated the e-mail campaign that urged students to request that their masters and deans host forums in which conversation and “real dialogue” could be had. Many of the rally’s organizers also helped to plan and facilitate open forums that have taken place on campus in previous years.
The rally is only part of our response, not our only response. Which leads me to the vigil.
I was shocked that the News labeled this vigil as inappropriate and our response as “an overreaction at best and a dangerous precedent to set at worst.” Perhaps if the News had bothered to contact the organizers of the rally before attributing numerous fallacies to us, they would have learned that the vigil is not only to allow students to talk about the personal encounters that they have experienced with discrimination on campus, but also an opportunity for us to stand in solidarity with others who have experienced hatred nationwide. People like Megan Williams, age 20, who, just a few months ago was kidnapped in West Virginia, raped, forced to eat dog feces, repeatedly stabbed, and called the very same racial epithet that stained the wall of Pierson. I was troubled, to say the least, that the News would thus call the efforts to encourage our campus to denounce hatred both at Yale and beyond and peacefully rebuild our sense of community an overreaction and a dangerous precedent.
I refuse to wait until we are in the same predicament as Columbia to respond to hatred when I see it. I refuse to wait until another student (let us not forget Kat Lo ’05) is aggressively harassed to say that discrimination is wrong.
Finally, the organizers of the rally, vigil and email-writing campaign completely agree that racial tension cannot be alleviated solely with a day of protest organized by the top down. We are not proposing that, nor were yesterday’s activities even planned from the top down to begin with.
I would personally love to see Yale engage in proactive measures to widely advertise its racial grievance harassment board as well as to implement structure that allows for long-term intercultural dialogue, education, and respect on campus — both in our residential colleges and in our classrooms. However, the News’ inflammatory editorials will not aid in alleviating racial tensions either. Instead, its inaccuracy and misconceptions add fuel to the fire and further division.
Thus, I am growing increasingly concerned, if not dismayed, by the recent opinion pieces that are flawed in their portrayal of the intent of protesting students.
The perpetuation of confusion that these editorials foster, I believe, brings us no closer to the peaceful and tolerant resolution I hope that we all aspire to.
Funmi Showole is a senior in Silliman College. She was one of the primary organizers of Wednesday’s rally and vigil as well as an e-mail campaign to encourage dialogue in residential colleges.