Saturday, December 15, 2018

Freedom of Speech Is Not Freedom from Accountability

The September 11 issue offers reports and opinions pertaining to some of the racially charged incidents that took place over the summer, particularly on social media. As the editorial board, we find it important to report on these matters because they affect our community— marginalized members of our community, precisely. We also recognize that these incidents of bigotry are not isolated nor are they random, but they are often overlooked on our campus. When Dean DiChristina reported on the drawing of swastikas over students’ property, there was never a communal follow-up nor was there a clear system of accountability.

It is with recognition that we denounce these actions by members of our Trinity community. The position that we take as the editorial board underscores our commitment to address issues of injustice, equality and freedom.

Perhaps the argument may be that the bigotry that was exhibited by members of our community happens everywhere, thus, redress will not be effective. Such assertions both in rhetoric and actions should not be condoned. As a community dedicated to intellectual work, we are obliged to critically analyze the world — we should not be caught up in fallacious assertions. It would be amiss to condone the idea that just because something—actions of bigotry and injustice— take place everywhere, we should not press for measures of accountability.

Because we recognize that all that happened is not new, we are calling on the College’s administration to do better for this to change. We are aware that there have been efforts with the new students’ Orientation to bring more issues of race into discussion. Although we are aware of this, we believe that continuous programming needs to happen to ensure that change happens.

Our community cannot be inclusive unless the work of inclusivity becomes a key thing to which we direct our efforts. Perhaps we need to recognize that traditional college demographics are changing and our institutional cultures need to change. This means that we need to move towards habits of speaking out when we see an injustice taking place on our campus. We need non-minority students to make it their business to create an inclusive community.

While all that we have mentioned seems jolly, we recognize that punitive measures can be instituted. The editorial board hopes to understand the extent to which Trinity has jurisdiction, extending to students’ social media accounts.

While we understand the importance of freedom of speech, we want to reiterate that it should not be conflated with freedom from accounting for bigotry.

Sincerely,

The Editorial Board

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