Dear TCNJ Family,
I would like to address several issues that arose in The Signal’s publication the week of February 27. Firstly, due to the lack of efficient and adequate journalism, I was misquoted and inaccurately criticized in The Signal’s article on TCNJ’s Prison Forum that took place on Tuesday, Feb. 21. I was misquoted saying “Much of society views inmates as specimens”. In actuality I was quoting Human Rights and Prison Reform activist Angela Davis who actually said, “Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo — obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other…”; this quote opened my presentation. So here one can see that I was not, as the article stated, making generalizations as, at this point of my presentation, I had not yet even revealed my personal perspective.
This brings me to my second point. By opening my presentation with said quote and sharing my own experiences teaching and tutoring in prisons, I was reminding all participants of the forum, as I would like to kindly remind the readers now, that all individuals of our communities, no matter the societal labels they are assigned — inmate, minority, immigrant, etc. — have the abilities, capacities, and desires to educate and inform themselves not only as means to obtaining a better self circumstance, but to become more enlightened citizens. And with this in mind, let us never allow a societal label, such as “inmate” or any other, to deprive us of a full and compassionate understanding of our fellow citizens and their plights. Thank you, and love and light to you all…
We appreciate the disagreement aroused as a result of inviting Bobby Seale and Felipe Luciano to speak at our school. However, we argue that it has been The College of New Jersey’s mission and our duty as student leaders to expose the student body to as many diverse ideas as possible. Once we step out of the bubble that is this suburban campus, we will confront ideas radically different then ours. Will we be ready to astutely and effectively function in s\uch a pluralistic society? We will if our academic training is coupled with experiences such as Mr. Seale and Mr. Luciano’s event “Social Change in the 21st Century.” A good student becomes a great student when he/she attempts to understand, values and does not run away from opposing viewpoints. In our humble opinion they represent a chapter in American history. Furthermore, history shows that Black nationalists and Puerto Rican activists organized as a response to the laws of the Jim Crow South, the violence of the KKK and the sheer discrimination endured for 400 years. While some elected to resist segregation with pacifist strategies, others where not far from being justified for responding in kind. Agreed, racism, segregation and violence are not pleasant traits of our country’s history, they nevertheless exist in our history and cannot be ignored. Our guests simply gave us a glimpse of that history. Moreover, we cannot allow offensive speech to stop us from understanding and practicing the value of free speech. At TCNJ we cherish that freedom. While some may regard Bobby Seale and Felipe Luciano’s ideas inflammatory it is refreshing to know that we live in a nation and attend a school where different opinions can be shared. The Bobby Seale and Felipe Luciano event represented controversial ideals, which are part of America’s history, not gang leaders looking to recruit.
Lambda Sigma Upsilon
Chi Upsilon Sigma
Black Student Union