by Max Brantley
“We know that diversity has become a popular term for those seeking positions of leadership on this campus,” said GSC Speaker Scout Johnson in her State of Graduate and Professional Students address. “Many spoke about the need for greater diversity within this very organization, the Associated Student Government. Speaking and acting are two very different things. We choose to act.”The debate to date — whether it is representative of all students or not — has had some unfortunate moments. One was opposition to the resolution by a senator who feared financial retribution. Another was the hoary "Southern heritage" defense of the flag. Then there was this in today's report quoting the student senator, Clay Smith, who had moved to indefinitely table the resolution.
While he did not have problems with the intentions in the resolution, Smith said he worried about physical or verbal violence that would put students in danger.Indeed. Little Rock, Birmingham, Selma, Philadelphia, Miss., and so many more stand as testimony to that. You might wish for a little more backbone nearly 60 years later.
“I personally know people who have really strong feelings about the Confederate flag. Those people can get very offended and make some rash decisions,” Smith said.
“If we do something positive, these boogeymen, these other people are going to get more dangerous, and therefore, we shouldn’t do the good thing,” Marino said. “It’s an old excuse that hasn’t been proven true and is a go-to excuse for those who are against doing the right thing.”
“It bothered me that the history of the United States had been boiled down to division hatred and terror,” Smith said. “All the good our country has done in 250 years was totally thrown to the side.”Free speech, including a free press, does seem to be flowering, regardless of outcome. Some students chose to boycott the event, which drew the usual huge crowd and many representations of the Confederate battle flag.
Marino said the student responses were unsettling.
“As a historian, I found it very disturbing that students were upset that we mentioned that slavery existed at the founding of this country,” Marino said. “It blows my mind that students on this campus don’t know American history.”