Cadence Paramore – Editor-in-Chief
If you’re an avid reader of the Weekly, or even if you just enjoy perusing the opinion section and occasionally filling out a puzzle or two in entertainment, you probably saw our opinion piece on the ‘chalk wars’ that happen each semester.
If you didn’t, the chalk wars are a fight reduced down to passive-aggressive messages in chalk located in front of the campus center between the anti-choice, or “pro-life”, group on campus and pretty much everyone else who understands reproductive freedom and hold respect for women and uterus-owning individuals.
As you can already deduce, I have a strong opinion on this.
One of our professors, Darsa Donelan, was supporting their students in the chalk wars and helping to scrub away chalk proclaiming false statistics written by members of pro-life. When this was discovered, Darsa was asked to apologize.
Apologize for what?
Many students stand behind Darsa in their actions, and many of us thank them for standing up for the truth and our right to reproductive freedom. I personally, along with numerous other Gustavus students, feel infuriated by the ridiculous chalk that we see shaming our bodies and trying to silence our voices. As well as the fact that in past semesters, the members of pro-life have faced no consequences for erasing pro-choice chalk.
Darsa said they would rather resign than apologize.
I understand that professors shouldn’t preach their opinions in class, but professors are people and they’re allowed to stand up for what they believe in on the campus on which they’re employed. And they deserve to be supported and appreciated by their campus.
We have professors on campus who make racist and homophobic comments, and Gustavus does nothing. We have professors who are overtly transphobic, and Gustavus does nothing. We have professors who engage in sexual misconduct, and still Gustavus does nothing.
I’ve personally been in classes where a professor has verbally bullied and shamed students. Where I have been called stupid. Where students have been shamed and put down for trying to complete assignments and not living up to the professor’s ridiculous standards. Where I have been talked over. Where I, along with other students, have been reduced to tears because of this professor. And when we all came forward, when many of us, who weren’t the first to file complaints, were shut down and silenced? Gustavus did nothing.
If Gustavus is going to pick and choose when to uphold campus policies and which professors deserve their support, then this is not an institution that we should be attending. Where alumni should be giving their money. Where prospective parents should be sending their children. Don’t do it.
Do not support Gustavus if Gustavus does not support ALL their professors and ALL of their students.
Now, you might be thinking that this is an assumption or exaggeration, but just last Friday (Oct. 28) Doug Thompson issued a statement via the Gustavus Marketing Office email to everyone in the Gustavus community basically standing up for the pro-life groups’ right to chalk and how Gustavus policy “prohibits tampering with, defacing, or removing postings” in which he grouped these chalked messages. But where was this statement when pro-life was removing pro-choice chalk?
At the very least, Gustavus NEEDS to be consistent.
The email then went into some bullsh*t about community, civility, and the importance of belonging– pretty basic and overused for Gustavus. Well, I don’t feel like I belong here, and I know numerous other students who feel the same way. And now a professor quit because of it. And guess what? It’s no surprise that the majority of those who are treated poorly and feel excluded fall into some category of POC, queer, and/or disabled.
Thompson wrote, “It is my hope that this incident can serve as a catalyst that propels learning, growth, and empathy.” Well, I’ve learned that if Gustavus won’t stand up for EVERYONE– including pro-choice groups and our professors– then I don’t stand with Gustavus.
Gustavus, why do you support bigoted professors who engage in sexual misconduct and bully your students over a professor who scrubs away some chalk on a sidewalk? Are you, yourself, bigoted? I think so.
I think, unless changes are made at its core, Gustavus will find itself losing more and more students. More and more money. Unless Gustavus changes with the times– the times in which our voices are growing and our generation and future ones are no longer allowing themselves to be talked over and silenced by our institutions– they will find they have become obsolete.
Gustavus will cease to exist, and none of us will mourn.