Backlash from students wanting classes cancelled reflects cultural intolerance

In the wake of the reaction to Phyllis Wise’s response to the possibility of canceling classes, I was quite confused. When I received the email that class would not be canceled and thought about making some sort of snide comment on social media, it did not occur to me to use her gender or her race to question her abilities as an administrator. 

I settled on posting a picture of her face pasted on Dr. Freeze from “Batman and Robin,” making an ice pun. 

As illustrated by this instance, we absolutely have issues of white privilege on our campus and a general lack of cultural tolerance. It is a pretty disgusting mark on our campus’ national presence that individuals of the student body think this way. 

At the same time, generalizing a group of people being racist doesn’t accomplish much and, in turn, can reflect some of the same type of hateful language. My friend commented on a BuzzFeed article covering the social media fallout and noted on Twitter that prejudicial behavior was being utilized by both sides. 

She received hateful tweets and texts in return. 

What this incident really has shown me, however, is that we do not have fully effective policies or programs regarding cultural tolerance on our campus for the general student body. 

On one end, we have students making disgusting and sexist remarks, and on the other hand, we have other students whose good intentions are invalidated by prejudicial rhetoric. In between, we mostly have a vacuum. There are many students working as multicultural advocates seeking to resolve these issues in University Housing, and I commend their efforts. Unfortunately, I do not see people listening to these people or taking away something from their efforts.

If this is the first thing that people think of to insult an administrator, then we need a new approach to fostering constructive conversations about diversity, sexual politics and more. 

My experience has been that white people, such as myself, do not want to talk about these issues because they “have heard it all before” in high school and view it as annoying. I admit to rolling my eyes at diversity initiatives, feeling that they were preachy and even patronizing at times. 

Even if people have talked about diversity a thousand times, it is clear that they have not listened, and they do not understand the importance of it. 

Therefore, we need diversity programming that is real and speaks to our students — something that is real, relevant, does not talk down to students and does not seek to blame individuals. 

Because if we act like this over cold weather, what else are we capable of?

Jonathan Bressler, senior in ACES