The Dickinsonian

It’s Not About Discomfort, It’s About Feeling Unsafe

Stephanie Czmar ’19, Life & Style Editor

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I would like to preface this piece by stating that I am a straight white woman and therefore can only truly speak of the experiences I have had; however, because I have been placed in this position that has afforded me some comfort, I feel I should take the opportunity to talk about a serious issue on campus.

I was talking to one of my roommates, and she mentioned that one of her professors opened up a discussion about the controversy surrounding the photo of a student dressed as Colin Kaepernick by making a comment about the difference between discomfort and feeling unsafe. From what my roommate said, this was not received exceptionally well by some of the students in the class.

The fact that my roommate’s class was held immediately after the faculty meeting this past Tuesday, during which students held a demonstration, really highlights for me that it would appear that faculty and administration are missing the point of these student demonstrations. While I was not at the demonstration, from my position as a student they are about a lot more than just the Kaepernick photo. While of course students want some type of consequence for the participants of the photo, I think the demonstrations are trying to get at a larger issue.

From my perspective, some students genuinely feel unsafe on campus, not uncomfortable, and they do not have their feelings confused or over-exaggerated. I have heard stories of sexual assaults and macroaggressions that show a complete lack of respect for people. I understand that administration cannot control the behaviors of students every day and that sometimes terrible things just happen, however it is ridiculous for them to sit in their ivory towers and boast of this campus’s diversity and inclusivity as they are looking down on a culture, which is beginning to breed the opposite of those things while they act blind.

While I do not feel that I am in a position to speak to the macroaggressions that happen on campus, I think it is important to take the time to acknowledge that racism and racist acts happen at Dickinson.

To speak on something I do know about, I do not think that is fair that I have to walk across campus after my Bible study every Wednesday and feel that I have to keep an eye on the blue lights and judge if I would actually be fast enough to get to one before an attacker overpowered me. I also don’t think it is fair that I am not confident that if I was sexually assaulted the school would support me as a victim. Now, administrators might be thinking, what is she talking about? Of course, we would try to help her. That may very well be true, but I do not feel that way and the fact that I do not feel that way is a problem. It is not discomfort; it is genuine concern. Why do I not feel safe here? It is not because I saw a toy gun in a screenshot from a Snapchat video. It is because someone thought that it was acceptable to wave about a toy gun as a joke during a time when gun violence is a very serious concern. This ignorance on this campus is what scares me. Why wasn’t this talked about during first year orientation in a way that would be impactful, a way that would stick in the memories of the students here?

Incidences like the student posing as Colin Kaepernick happen all the time whether the administration knows about it or not. Do you think a student would think it would be appropriate to dress in that way if he was surround by a community that upheld the ideals Dickinson preaches? Wouldn’t you think that that student would be the one feeling discomfort, not inflicting it on others?

I do not care what numbers the administration can throw at me to refute my opinion piece and show how great Dickinson is compared to other colleges because at the end of the day, the surveys and reports they receive do not show the full picture of what is happening on this campus. I do not get to go home at the end of my school days here like the faculty and administration do. I have to stay here. I have to spend my nights here.

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2 Responses to “It’s Not About Discomfort, It’s About Feeling Unsafe”

  1. Chris Beck on November 9th, 2017 11:49 am

    I would like to ask why such a photo, which appears to have captured a spontaneous moment at a party and presents no actual evidence of any malicious intent, would cause someone to feel unsafe on campus. I would suggest that this is not a reasonable response to this photo. The real world is not a place where things like this won’t happen so it’s best learn how to let such things go.

  2. Tom Gamber on November 13th, 2017 8:24 pm

    Let it go…

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It’s Not About Discomfort, It’s About Feeling Unsafe