By Taylor Matook ’16
Senior Copy Editor
In my three years at Wheaton, I have seen many beautiful things such as obstacles overcome, problems solved and resolutions fulfilled.
Yet, the bias incident that recently occurred in the beginning of this semester is an inexcusable act that tarnishes my view of the beauty that surrounds me. In the wake of this event, the most important thing is how we as a community respond and act to this crime.
Three years ago, this campus was struck by a hate crime to the Jewish Life House. This House, which represented a safe place for the Jewish religion and culture to be celebrated, was targeted and vandalised. I think what perplexed me the most was the disorganization that followed in the forms of discussion and action planning,
It seems we have come full circle, in which our progression towards a more peaceful co-existence has followed the pattern of one step forward and two steps back. One act of such vandalism is an act too many.
My question is how can we can we as a community not only prevent bias incidents from occurring on our campus, but also on campuses nationwide. The things we do and say are not limited to the boundaries of Wheaton.
While these events may be isolated in nature, they have together created a chain. We can either work to pull apart the chain over time, or break it now. What is to follow in the days, weeks, and months after this bias incident will dictate which path is followed.
Kevin A. Gil ’16
Standing by your words, standing as Wheaton.
Words have meaning. Words can have an impact. They can create and empower.
They can also deteriorate and destruct. What people say and who they say it to can have various effects on those around them. Saying it publicly is one thing, writing it anonymously and not taking accountability for the words we write is simply cowardly.
In the past few years at Wheaton, there have been two major bias incidents that have been direct attacks to certain groups of people on campus and beyond. In a community that is so accepting of all religions, of all races, and of all individuals in whatever shape or form they are, it is impossible for these incidents to occur and go unnoticed. It is vital that as a college we both speak and stand to address what has happened on our campus.
To deny people on a basis of religion or race, like the incidents that have unfolded at Wheaton is to threaten our entire community. Acceptance is what makes this college so distinct from other places in our world. Being the people we truly are and knowing we can do so without fear makes Wheaton such a beautiful place to live and grow.
Our security and livelihood comes from the people who stand by the words they speak and the opinions they share. Neglecting ownership of your words excludes you from this inclusive community that is a blessing to be a part of.
We, as Wheaton, must stand by our words. We must stand against hate.
Adam Kilduff ‘16
The last time this happened, we were too new to understand what it really meant and too confused to do anything about it. A town hall meeting in the chapel, jam-packed from floor to ceiling with students, faculty and staff, accrued as we got together as a community and tried to make sense of the thing.
I sat in the balcony on the left side, watching President Ronald Crutcher and Dean of Students Lee Williams on the stage. I had never seen a gathering of that size at Wheaton for a cause, and would not see another one until nearly two years later, when Juwan Mimes and Sarah Estrela led a long, growing snake of students around campus in protest of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.
The students who were given the mic in the chapel were loud and undirected, cheered on by the crowd and by Williams, who Crutcher always deferred to when it came to running those kinds of meetings. They spoke of their own, often unrelated, experiences of discrimination with great emotion. Loud cheers and applause. Shocked inhalations of air. And the whole time the unanswered question of what was to be done, how could the Wheaton community prevent this, as opposed to simply reacting to it?
In the midst of the wave of emotion, a lone dissenter.
An upperclassman down in the orchestra took the mic and suggested security cameras. If there were security cameras on Howard Street, he argued, students would think twice before writing graffiti of any kind on the houses. And if they did, we’d know who they were. As an addition to the town hall, it seemed reasonable enough to look at.
He was immediately denounced in vague terms by Williams, again to cheers from the crowd. Was it a good idea? Probably not, and it clearly didn’t address the root of the problem. It’s also likely that students other than the anti-Semitic ones would have been opposed for a variety of reasons. (Later, the director of Public Safety at the time would admit that the college probably couldn’t afford cameras in the first place.) But the dissenter’s suggestion was, as it turned out, the farthest we would get that year towards addressing hate speech on our campus.
It’s been almost three years since then. The issue of this kind of speech has come up again, and this time, if we remember the past, we might just be mature enough to deal with it.
By Alexandra Natale ‘16
Four years ago, the majority of the Wheaton community gathered in the Chapel to talk about the anti-semitic graffiti on Jewish Life House. Professors brought their classes. People from all corners of campus spoke. There seemed to be palpable energy directed towards making change.
On Friday at the One Wheaton: Standing Against Hate event, I couldn’t help but notice that the crowd was much smaller. Even President Hanno acknowledged that the people who needed to hear this message the most probably were not present.
Unfortunately, the energy from that Town Hall four years ago seemed to fizzle out quickly. It is my hope that we haven’t accepted that these events as inevitable. I hope that in the rush to respond to these attacks, we won’t use all our energy on one big event in the immediate aftermath and forget to develop sustainable solutions. I was heartened to hear speakers at the event express the same sentiments.
I also hope that we can talk about our responses to these events as well, and hold space to acknowledge people’s differing opinions in how we should react as a community.
I was happy that Clare Prober ‘16, Hearing Board Chair, reminded us of our Honor Code. We must come together as a community and ask what our shared values are. I do not think we are expressing them currently.
When confronted with similar events, other colleges have canceled classes for a day to come together and reflect, listen, and learn. That may be a good next step for Wheaton.