September 25, 2017

Why Wellesley can no longer practice selective sensitivity

By Zach Miller '17, Print Editor in Chief

Let me start out by saying that these Facebook posts contained some of the nastiest, most hurtful comments I have ever seen, and that in my opinion, no punishment would have been too severe for the perpetrators of the messages. The content of the screenshots was disgusting and vile and absolutely inexcusable, especially when half-assed apologies were all the bullies could muster after the fact. In no way do I wish to diminish the importance of what occurred; this was an incredibly momentous moment for Wellesley, both in the atrocity of the actions and in the response of the community.

That said, a part of me feels that the response in this case only highlights Wellesley’s indifference to previous incidents.

I understand that movements need catalysts; what I don’t understand is why Wellesley waited so long before finally finding an issue that made people collectively agree that intolerance in Wellesley is a problem. The truth is, racial issues existed in Wellesley long before the screenshots appeared on Facebook; so, too, did anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The fact that METCO students have been called the “n-word” in the streets of Wellesley should not have gone over lightly; instances where students bullied other students for practicing Islam should not have been swept under the rug. Last spring, an incident occurred on Instagram in which a student posted a series of anti-Semitic pictures with captions making fun of the Holocaust. I’m Jewish, so I’m not objective in saying this, but where was the outcry then?

This, again, is not to diminish the Facebook incident; rather, I believe the Wellesley community diminished previous incidents by treating them as less severe and less important. Of course the community response to recent racism has been appropriate and welcome, but I find myself questioning why we couldn’t bring ourselves to be as outraged before.

I do not want to promote an atmosphere of sensitivity, and I hate it when people get easily offended; it irritates me to no end when people think that just because something offends them, it’s wrong. But consistency is important. If Wellesley is going to unify to confront an act of racism, we must unify to confront all acts of racism. The One Wellesley club is a step in the right direction, but we must also unify to confront sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia, among various other prejudices. After the unpublicized events of the past year and the well-known incidents this summer, we cannot pick and choose who or what we care about anymore.

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