When it comes to changing the “system”, there are usually three ways to go about it. First, activists may work within the system to bring about the desired change. Although this is a relatively simple way to enact change, it allows decision-makers to maintain their power. Second, activists may resist the system. Not only does this allow for the exercise of power vested within the resistors, it also delegitimizes those in power, ultimately portraying the decision-makers in a new, dimmer light. Third, activists may create an alternative system. In this case, the decision-makers are out of the picture altogether, other than being used as an example of how not to do things. It is in the creation of an alternative system that proponents of the old system react violently towards the new system’s creators. By creating the alternative system, activists are not merely activists, but critics of the status quo. “Fully Present” is an example of this third mode, even if its sole objective is to provide a safe space for dialogue on campus.
With all the uproar expressed about “Fully Present” by the staff of the “Earlham Word” last week, it is evident that they see a clear threat to their power – if you can really call it “power”. I find humor in this situation mostly because the newspaper staff’s actions were, quite frankly, predictable. I was especially tickled, however, by their decision to leave two whole blank pages, begging in authoritative fashion, for the dialogue to return to the “Earlham Word”. I admit that before I had read the “Earlham Word” on Friday, it looked like it had some meat on its bones for once, like it had some quality content. Sadly, besides two articles that were long overdue, “The Word” was more of a cry for attention under the umbrella of a so-called “unity” that will hardly take place at a higher education institution. Overall, what could have been an exercise of “proper journalism”, as they called it, became a weak patronizing attempt at starting a dialogue, a self-righteous mandate about how the dialogue should start and take place.
One point that was highlighted in the “Word” staff’s monologue was the issue of anonymity. Let’s be real, there is nothing wrong with anonymity. Are we cowards for not attaching our name to our public opinion? Never. Anonymity goes hand-in-hand with controversial issues. Let’s call forth an example: If a Resident Assistant writes a critical and legitimate article about how Lauren Ronald Huntington, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, is micromanaging the college, would it be wise for the writer to attach their name to their article? Probably not. Especially if you consider the fact that it is a breach of their contract, as a Residence Life employee, to discredit or criticize the policies and actions of the Office in any way, shape, or form. That being said, if we remember that Earlham wants students to take part in the various decision-making processes on campus through active participation in committees and departments, would it be wise for said students to write about any controversial issues surrounding those policy debates in the “Earlham Word”? Probably not. Not if their name is forced upon it.
When I write emails or letters, I sign my name on it; however, I just wrote an opinion article.