Senior Week veteran: fight for your rights

What ever happened to student dissent? During my four years at the College, my friends and I endured several ludicrous penalties for violating school policy.

One friend was placed on probation after committing an arsenal of ghastly offenses including watching TV with his door open (noise violation), drinking alcohol in the presence of minors (alcohol violation) and placing a drawer above his bed (some sort of strange furniture-propping violation). One more and he would have been removed from campus.

As students, we never complained or questioned the policies even though they were a nuisance. After all, the College’s sprawling suburban campus has never been a hotbed for social discourse and, frankly, it wasn’t worth the hassle.

So last week, when the College’s seniors were forced to cancel Senior Week because of low signup, I was hardly surprised or offended. My mood changed, however, after reading about the student body’s reaction in an article last week in the Trenton Times. I know: What reaction?

One quote by Gabe Alonso, a senior class representative, stuck out to me. “I’m disappointed, but sometimes that’s the way democracy works,” he said. What is this “democracy” Mr. Alonso speaks of?

As I recall, the College has never shown much respect for tradition or student input. In the past few years, logos, meal options, housing plans, and even the College’s name were all changed without student consent. And who can blame them when the student body is growing increasingly complacent?

It is important that students see the danger in these policies. As a public school with a reputation for admitting New Jersey’s best and brightest, it is appropriate to voice your concerns to an institution that has shown a blatant disregard for your opinions as students.

It starts with asking “Why?” Why is it punishable to drink alcohol in front of a minor? Why doesn’t the College (a public school) have an alcohol policy that matches the State of New Jersey’s? Why are you paying thousands of dollars for a diminishing say in your social fate?

Once again, you are paying for a service. Are you satisfied?

I love the College. During my time there, I served proudly as a College Ambassador and school spokesman. I even lived there over the summers and worked for guest services. I’ve gone on to get a masters degree using the skills I learned there.

And, in case you were wondering, yes I drank alcohol during Senior Week. I partied in Atlantic City and danced at Bar A in Belmar. My classmates and I sang crappy pop songs on the long bus rides and one night, we even cut my friend’s bangs. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. But mostly, we stayed up late and reflected the good times that four (or more) years at our beloved college brought us. And when the week was over we walked (well, some of us stumbled) onto the football field to receive our degrees. That was college. That was Senior Week.

It was a great time, and I’m saddened that the seniors this year won’t have the memories that I will continue to cherish. The rest of you, however, still have a chance. Speak up before it’s too late.

Eric Holland Johnson

Class of 2004

Conservatives invoke slurs for attention

Most opinions written in The Signal lack substance. Usually, it seems, they are written just to piss people off. Keith Lucas, for example, seems to find a new way to say “capitalism is great, and I don’t like poor people,” every week.

And usually, it is just as easy to ignore the authors as childish ideologues looking for attention. Terence Grado’s article last week, “Coulter stepped over the line, but her critics followed,” is unusually difficult to dismiss. He seems to too easily ignore, manipulate and make up facts.

He writes in defense of Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter, among other offensive remarks, has said of Sept. 11 widows, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

Mr. Grado’s article is about her recent use of the gay slur “faggot” to describe Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Grado writes, “the term ‘faggot’ does not necessarily refer to a homosexual negatively anymore.”

Reasonable people can disagree about many issues, but it should be universally understood that calling someone a “faggot” solely for political gain is offensive, not only to the person being described, but also the entire gay community.

You cannot blame Coulter. She has admitted she makes provocative comments to get attention. I blame her sponsors – for example, the Conservative Political Action Conference that Mr. Grado attended. Established organizations only demean themselves when they invite bigoted speakers such as Coulter.

My contempt for radical pundits, who make ridiculous statements for attention, extends well beyond Coulter. Mr. Grado mentions Amanda Marcotte. He goes on to say that she makes more ridiculous comments than Coulter and, “get(s) free passes from lefties.”

The implication that liberals never criticize other liberals is not ridiculous – it’s wrong by any standard of objectivity. Liberal blogs and pundits love to criticize everyone from Hillary Clinton to George Bush. Conservatives, by contrast, are much more hesitant to criticize their own.

But my disdain for the assertion that “liberals do not criticize liberals” stems not from its factual inaccuracy, but from its stereotyping. Just like “conservatives,” “liberals” are not one united body of people who speak with one voice at one time. Some liberals, just like some conservatives, are intelligent enough to reject the divisive politics of both Coulter and Marcotte.

Mr. Grado writes, “to claim Coulter and many other Republicans secretly hate gays is a spit in the face.” She called someone a “faggot” merely to insult him, so either she hates gays, or more likely she wants attention.

But either way, people who endorse offensive, bigoted statements solely for the purpose of getting attention for themselves are doing a disservice to democracy.

Bill Conlow