photo by Jonas Powell ’18
Every few months, it seems, another one of those articles surfaces about how political correctness or trigger warnings or “social justice” is ruining the country or the educational system or everything. Our own President Roth reminded us a few weeks ago that “there is no right not to be offended.” These arguments typically suggest that because a few of us are so fragile and oversensitive, everyone is losing: words are banned, jokes are less funny, debates about important issues are diluted or even curtailed.
While I’m really not concerned if racist jokes lose their appeal, I agree that we need more, not less, conversation. Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, and indeed, often worsens them. If we can’t talk about the systems of oppression that plague our society–racism, heterosexism, misogyny, classism–we’re going to have a hard time dismantling them. Sometimes frustratingly, we have to be able to talk about these issues not only among our own identity and affinity groups, but with people whose ideas are vastly different from ours. So yes, I agree that trying to shut down conversations about sensitive topics is problematic. (Which is not the same, please note, as removing oneself from a conversation because of personal history or trauma.) More speech, please.
The thing is, though, the targets of these arguments–the oversensitive college student, the person who can’t take a joke, the “social justice warriors”–hardly ever seem to be asking for less speech. Perhaps there are exceptions, but I cannot think of a single anti-racist activist who wants people to stop talking about racism. When we ask that certain words not be used or that our histories be treated with understanding and respect, we are not questioning whether these conversations should happen, but how. To worry that such efforts are ruining free-spirited debate seems, to me, to be missing the point.
A message from Alexandra Ricks ’16:
Call for Submissions to the University Organizing Center Infoshop/Anti-Oppression Library located at 190 High Street!
The Infoshop Preservation Society (IPS) is a new student group tasked with the restoration and maintenance of the UOC Infoshop and Anti-Oppression Library. We’re in the process of cleaning up and improving upon the Infoshop space located at the back of the UOC and looking for submissions to add to Wesleyan’s only dedicated anti-oppression library (soon to be a great workspace as well!).
Got any pamphlets, zines, books, posters, photographs, music, movies, periodicals, maps, art, artifacts, etc. you would like to share with the Wesleyan community? Donate or lend them to the University Organizing Center’s infoshop, a library of radical literature that’s open to everyone!
There is a submission box by the front door of the UOC. Got a lot to donate? Let us know and we can pick it up right from your door!!
If you don’t have anything you would like to submit but would like to read about anti-oppression or DIY projects check out the infoshop, on the first floor of the UOC (190 High Street, between Beta and Eclectic).
Or if you are interested in getting involved in the group organizing the infoshop, send us an email at: infoshop-glist[at]wesleyan[dot]edu
Date: before spring break!
Place: The University Organizing Center (190 High St)
Did you know Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14 has a hyphenated last name? The hyphen’s right there; see for yourself! The world is crazy sometimes!!!
Hello Wes Activist!
Do you love the UOC?
Would you want to support the work of student activists, oversee this amazing student space, and get paid while doing it?
The office of Student Activities and Leadership Development is now accepting applicants for next year’s University Organizing Center Intern. Click HERE to learn more about the position.
Click HERE to Apply!
The deadline for applications is April 18.
From Lisa Sy ’13:
Wesward is a new online website that was born out of the feeling that anti-oppression, identity, activist and any other active Wesleyan student groups and students need an online hub for communication and collaboration.
We are holding an interest meeting Saturday, 9/22, 2pm in Allbritton 304 for any and all people who would like to work with us! We welcome anyone who wants to work with us in any capacity they can; no technical skills for the online component are necessary at all.
Date: Saturday, September 22
Time: 2 pm
Place: Allbritton 304
Cost: The cost of revolution.