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ISSUE 118 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/29/2005

Student reaction immature

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 29, 2005

The overall lack of maturity and respect illustrated by some members of the St. Olaf student body and administration these past two weeks has been the pinnacle of personal frustration with the St. Olaf community during my four years at this school. In response to a common theme of student immaturity in regards to Ann Coulter, the articles written by Ms. Blair, Mr. Farrell and Mr. Heringer aptly noted a great weakness on the St. Olaf campus.

While their articles focused on Ms. Coulter’s appearance, the vandalism of publicity that occurred the week prior to Ms. Coulter’s appearance should also be noted. In the first place, Political Awareness Committee (PAC) members spent a great deal of time and effort advertising for Ms. Coulter, especially since much of their time was spent replacing ripped, graffiti-covered or missing signs. Congratulations to PAC for their determination to advertise and replace vandalized signs, ensuring that students would know of Ms. Coulter’s coming to St. Olaf.

To those students who took it upon themselves to vandalize signs, congratulations in violating everyone’s Constitutional right to freedom of expression. By doing so, you illustrated that the violations of such rights do not come from the government, but from close-minded individuals who will not tolerate any opinions but their own. Through your selfish actions, you illustrated that freedom of expression is only for those who share your own views.

Furthermore, to those of you who took it upon yourselves to vandalize signs, congratulations on not utilizing the personal and academic education St. Olaf purports to impart to its students. More to the point, by writing ridiculous, uneducated statements on Ms. Coulter’s posters, such as “Hitler,” you simultaneously illustrated that you lack general understanding of world events while disrespecting millions of people who suffered or lost their lives under the Nazi regime. Through such words and actions, you illustrated that you lack respect for the dignity of others and the integrity of their actions, as the St. Olaf RICH statement emphasizes.

In the future, I hope St. Olaf students will carry themselves in a much more respectful, intelligent manner than was displayed this previous week on campus. Before you vandalize another sign or scream profanities at another speaker, remember the words of educator and linguist Noam Chomsky: “If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.”

Katie Rusch ‘05

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