Staff Editorial: Last quarter’s protest was counterproductive and misguided

On November 25, 2013 a small group of student protesters stood in the back of Visiting Professor Bruno Anili’s Race, Law and US Politics class, the phrase “Can’t hear me, can’t educate me” taped across their mouths.  As Anili took in the scene, he looked to Student Commission President Darrin Camilleri for an explanation.  He was met with silence.

“I’m not sure the nature of this,” Anili said.  The silence continued.

Visibly shaken, Anili passed out the Blue Book exam.

“If we need to we can make room for conversation, we can make time,” he said.

Though the intentions of the protestors demonstrating in Anili’s classroom were cloaked in the pursuit of social justice—to bring awareness to their personal experiences and subsequent struggles within the course—the theatrics of protest conducted during the course’s final examination fell short of social justice by eliminating the opportunity for constructive discourse and held hostage the educations of students present, but not involved.

While the original aim of the Tenth Week Ten was to amplify the voice of Mele Makalo, a student of the class who felt her personal experience was glossed over by Anili during class time, they drowned out the voices of their peers.  The Ten would agree that respect must be given to be gained, yet instead of extending respect to their professor by explaining their cause, they leant silence.  Instead of respecting their classmates’ final exam period, they dealt disorder.  Had the Tenth Week Ten afforded their professor and their classmates the same respect they themselves expect, the protest would never have taken place.

Furthermore, while Makalo felt increased discussion of personal experience during class time was needed, it was not her job to develop the course curriculum.  Students are rarely 100% satisfied with the depth and breadth of the content they learn, but courses aren’t tailored for individual students.  It’s curriculum, not racism.

One member of the Tenth Week Ten said that he felt the class was “being jipped out of an education.”  After The Index’s close examination and careful consideration of the events of and leading up to November 25, this unnamed protester is absolutely correct.  When students take it upon themselves to “educate” their other peers and their teachers, they are not coming to learn.

The autonomy of the Index has always been sustained by the independent efforts of its staff to hold both itself and those at Kalamazoo College accountable.  This is constantly mirrored in student efforts to bring injustices that go unseen and unheard to the light within a community that values education, awareness, and respect.  As a publication by and for the students, we stand for all faculty and students here, not just one.

One thought on “Staff Editorial: Last quarter’s protest was counterproductive and misguided

  1. Christine Starr Davis

    Hmmm? There is so little information about what spurred the action that beyond reporting the visiting profs discomfort and offering a minimizing reprimand to one student in the class, I’m not sure I have the sort of information that would help me look critically at the event or the editorial. Protest, by definition, happens at inconvenient and uncomfortable times. So, that alone isn’t justification for the slant of the editorial. Silence of course speaks volumes and if the message intended was about voices that are (even inadvertently) silenced at Kalamazoo College, what a powerful way to deliver it. I am hopeful that the Index and the Kalamazoo community as a whole is supportive of even the nascent efforts of its students to practice what liberal arts colleges “preach”: having the strength of character and courage to do what is difficult, on behalf of those past, present and future students at Kalamazoo who may not have the strength in numbers to be heard. I’m happy to join in constructive dialogue with others about this editorial.

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