Questioning Strategy, Not Decorum

[by Denny Russell]   As a writer, I’m prepared for a fair amount of criticism of my work. But I was not prepared to have my post on student meeting announcements pigeonholed with an earlier call for removing advertisements. I fought hard (verbally) in defense of free speech and expression during that whole debacle. I thought I’d earned the respect to have my recent post scrutinized for the particulars. I never expected to be called a sell-out, or to be accused of compromising my values to the university equivalent of The Man.

So I want to take a moment to show how my post “Calling ALL Students (Not Just the Communists)” was nothing like the censorship of The Antioch Voice:

  • My post did not ask for ads to be removed.
  • My post questioned the effectiveness of an image in drawing broad student attendance to meetings.
  • My post did NOT insist that students be spared from seeing the image.
  • My post challenged meeting organizers to consider their tactics when leading an endeavor that’s all-inclusive.  

Now I know that at least one of you has argued that The Antioch Voice is the same all-inclusive venue as student meetings, but that is not the case. Not everyone is comfortable with how they write, so they won’t submit to the Voice. Many people get anxious when they know an audience will scrutinize their thoughts and opinions. Believe me, I get that. I feel it myself. It’s unfortunate, but not every student will contribute to the Voice. They will exclude themselves. Hell, we have a hard time even getting students to COMMENT on posts we publish through the site. It doesn’t mean students are lazy or that they don’t have school spirit. They don’t feel comfortable or confident in that form of expression, that’s all.

Student meetings should NEVER have the same stigma hanging over them. Those students who will never send the Voice content or comment on our articles, you want those students to attend meetings. Even if they show up for support of a student issue, or come to hear what the president has to say to the student body, you want them to be present.

My article questioned whether all students would react favorably to a meeting invitation with a hammer and sickle. Are they going to have the same view of that symbol that regular meeting attendees have? Will at least some students react by NOT attending? That’s all I asked.

It’s an insult that my entire post was read as a war cry for McCarthyism. Nothing could be worse than insisting I wrote something other than I did. I mentioned Communists on campus as a simple fact, not as damning evidence to oust them. LOL! I was recognizing them as part of a larger student body, and then asking that student meetings appeal to that larger body.

That’s as crystal clear as I can make it. I’m requesting some time at the next meeting to make certain my defense isn’t just a struggle with one student. Please attend and voice your concerns, or email me at drussell@antioch.edu. Thanks.

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