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Schnipke: Less forums, more action

April 25, 2018

These last few weeks of my college career have been a whirlwind. So much has changed during the spring semester, and I’m not quite sure yet how we will move on from this.

 

If you haven’t been paying attention recently, UT has had some issues with racism, sexism and censorship on campus. The IC has covered these events consistently, but even more has been going on in the background. Students have received death threats — on social media and even in person.

 

Students of all groups are joining to talk about the issues plaguing our nation and the aftershocks. A series of forums — one even being held by the IC — have been working toward a solution.

 

But what is the solution? How do we bridge the massive divide between our ideologies?

 

At the first forum held by UT, almost immediately after the College Democrats’ banner of President Donald Trump in a poorly drawn KKK hat was torn down, students expressed their opinions and concerns. To me, these concerns had nothing to do with the actual issue the Dems were trying to talk about (the president and racism), but instead with what free speech is on our campus.

 

Let me tell you straight up: UT is a public university and everyone has the right to free speech. There is a HUGE difference between what is free and what is hate/inflammatory speech.

 

I don’t think we should even be talking about free speech, but what do I know? It’s not like I’m a journalist who deals with this all the time.

But just to clear it up real quick: The banner falls under free speech. Young Americans for Liberty’s banner, currently hanging in the union and taunting students with the slogan “Will you tear this sign down too?” also falls under free speech.

 

Students being harassed for their skin tone, their religion or even their lack of makeup — as seen on Twitter yesterday — is hateful, messed up and just proves my point that there is a huge gap between the students on campus.

 

I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.

 

Let me say that again: There is so much hate on this campus for people you don’t even know. I can’t even begin to figure how to explain why you shouldn’t put others down or disrespect just because of their race or religion or gender.

 

Comments made on campus these last few weeks really have struck me as hateful and very hurtful. Statements such as, “I don’t see color” or “I have black friends” or even when one very brave student was shot down by a prominent student at a forum with the words, “I don’t believe you,” after she told a personal story.

 

I’m not afraid to say I’m very liberal in my views. I’ve been on this campus for four years, and I’ve been surrounded by too much culture and happiness not to be.

 

There are so many great people on this campus belonging to all sorts of groups. I believe in women's rights, minority rights, LGBT+ rights and so much more.

I'm tired of having diversity and inclusion conversations. If you don't understand the basics by now, I have to assume you don't want to understand.

 

For the student group chairman who stood at the first forum and said he thinks we need more diversity of thought on campus instead of talking about actual diversity issues, that is a huge cop-out, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

 

Any student on this campus, white or not, that thinks we don’t have a race issue is oblivious and needs to take a reality check.

 

In the time I’ve been here, some students tried to set up a White Student Union. I laughed at the thought when it happened because their reasoning was beyond ridiculous. It sounded childish. They wanted the group only because the Black Student Union was the largest group on campus and they felt outnumbered.

Do you know why that group never became an actual thing? Both students who were trying to start it got into a fight where they accused the other of being a KKK Klansman. The group was never going to be anything more than a front for racism and white supremacy.

 

I don’t get offended at white people jokes even though I’m white because I can recognize that white people as a whole have systematically oppressed POC in America, which is where I live. Also, I’m not a snowflake who wildly throws things out of proportion when it offends me (i.e. students who got so angry at the banner that had no words on it.)

 

Let’s talk about uncomfortable things. That is the real reason I keep going to these forums. I don’t go to hear one opinion being loudly shouted out above the other. I enjoy discourse.

 

UT and the students aren’t engaging in positive discourse. Until it becomes less of a fight between the left and the right — which shouldn’t have anything to do with racist attitudes — we will never solve the issues plaguing our campus.

 

Let’s put our finger-pointing aside and solve the real problems.

 

 

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