Comments on Student Diversity Sit-in

Published in Winter 2015 Scene
On campus protests

I was disappointed, nay, appalled, at a couple of items reported in the autumn 2014 Scene.

The first is a picture on pg. 6 of students holding up the sign “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” regarding the Ferguson, Mo., issue. Is this what Colgate has come to, making judgments before all of the facts are known and then celebrating it in the Scene?

The second is the intense focus on diversity. It seems to me that the best thing President Herbst could do for the university is to focus on unity. Doesn’t the motto on the Seal of the United States say E Pluribis Unum (Out of Many, One)? We should celebrate the fact that we are Americans. One could emigrate to Germany, but could not become a German, or to Japan, but not become Japanese. But one can come legally to America from anywhere in the world and become an American because the term is not a nationality, but an ideal.

Colgate students should be reminded daily that this is a unique country with liberties, freedoms, and opportunities not afforded anywhere else. What I see is professorial focus on the weakness they perceive in America instead of its great strengths. I have no problem in celebrating one’s cultural heritage and to be able to do so without being slurred, but when the focus exceeds that of our country’s unity, then the university has not done a proper job of educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Col. Philip Chaffee ’55, USAF (Ret.)
Corry, Pa.

As I read the morning papers, I am struck by the degree of injustice, intolerance, violence, and death in the world. The radical Islamic group ISIS has executed Western journalists, Christians, and other Muslims as part of their genocidal rampage through Iraq and Syria. Iran is close to finalizing a nuclear warhead, which will further their stated ambition of wiping Israel from the map. Throughout much of the world, malnutrition, hunger, and disease continue to exact a frightful toll on our fellow humans.

With these events constituting real injustice in the world, it is difficult for me to empathize with a privileged Colgate student occupying a building or holding a protest sign. And it is puzzling that the administration continues to pander to this shrill, vocal, and self-righteous minority. When students leave the protected enclave of Hamilton, they will be forced to confront true injustices, large and small. The faculty and administration would do well to put this all into context for them.

Jeff Swanson ’90
Portland, Ore.

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