This Student Body Can, Must and Will “Be The Change”

NickDefaultNick Wallace ’14

I, along with everybody else at Friarside Chats, apologize for the inactivity. As everybody knows, being a student involves a multitude of responsibilities including schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and staying healthy. That being said, I could not help but respond to this one particular school event; for once my remarks will be both optimistic and brief.

Earlier this year, an article in The Cowl sparked controversy on campus. Condemning the school’s diversity initiatives, the article isolated minority students here at PC, especially MLK scholars. Subsequently, The Cowl was attacked as being racist, conservative, and close-minded. More shockingly (and to my horror), the author of The Cowl article was verbally abused and physically threatened.

As many of you know, I wrote a Friarside Chat in response to the controversial Cowl article. The article generated over 1000 views in 24 hours and several thousands more in the coming days. Different students, faculty members, and administrators applauded me for my work in person and via email. It was truly a humbling experience for me; I simply wanted to provide an alternative viewpoint.

With that said, I have to give credit where it is due. The Cowl was in a unique and difficult situation following the storm of controversy. While in my opinion they may have gone a bit over-the-top defending their Commentary editor (I would have liked to see a member of The Cowl write a response against the original piece, rather than just publishing Guest Commentaries), I have to commend our school newspaper for persevering through their hardships.

Shortly after my article became popular on campus, the Managing Editor of The Cowl emailed me asking if I would like to meet for coffee. I gladly accepted, not knowing what to expect. In the end, the conversation was both constructive and beneficial. It cleared up any misunderstandings that took place and sought to fix problems for the future. The acts of the Managing Editor were both professional and respectful.

More, the First Annual Friar Forum on Diversity was a hit. The Cowl did a great job putting together a variety of panelists from different backgrounds. The forum was the perfect way for The Cowl to fix its mistakes. It allowed for student feedback in regards to the article that sparked controversy. More importantly, it established a dialogue that PC was not having. Congratulations to Kelly Sullivan for starting that dialogue. Congratulations to The Cowl for a productive event.

Furthermore, I think it is safe to say that this forum was a small step in the right direction. I will reiterate the remarks of many panelists: this process is going to take time. Unfortunately, current students may never be able to see the full effects of PC’s diversity initiatives. Additionally, the majority of students at tonight’s forum were in favor of the diversity initiatives. Based on the ideological makeup of students on campus, it is safe to say that not everybody understands the importance of diversity in any community; there is still work to be done.

As the next Executive Vice President of Student Congress, I intend to continue this dialogue. I hope to increase collaboration between clubs on campus, specifically between Student Congress and BMSA. Isolation and competition will not create change. Only when students of different races, ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations and backgrounds come together under a common cause will change be possible. Together, we can be that change.

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