My intention in writing this letter is to be as the mast was for Odysseus. When he sailed on his great journey, the sirens called for him to abandon his ship, the people that needed him, and his existence. Because he had been forewarned that these creatures of deceit would attempt to lure him into the icy ocean, he had his crew tie him to the mast. This not only saved his life, but it also made him stronger for having heard the siren’s song and gotten away. Recently the sirens of injustice have been spotted on our beloved campus. They sing a tune of sorrow, of inequality and of mistreatment. These creatures promise that if only you, the all powerful administration, would only open your eyes, silence all of your students’ speech and open your pocketbook, then someday, the storm of brewing violence and accusations of racism will pass.
I am here to tell you that this narrative is nothing but snake oil. I want to reiterate, before I share my thoughts, that I am the greatest admirer of what TCU stands for today. Large swaths of my family, going back three generations, have attended TCU. My grandfather knew both M. J. Neeley and Amon Carter. And everybody I know that came here, graduated with the highest regard for TCU and its students. What I say is tough love, but do not question that it is in fact love.
We have witnessed a certain type of activism in the past few months; now those protests have morphed into a list of demands, backed up with threats of violence. The demands brought to you by that group are authoritarian in nature. They are racist in every sense of the word. And under those policies, racial divisions would become worse, students would see their freedom of speech abridged, and outsiders would lose respect for this institution. This translates directly to an unsatisfied student body, a drop in enrollment rates and lost donations.
Today, I believe that TCU is a great school. Similar policies to the ones demanded of you have been tried in many different power structures throughout history. In every case they have led to the fall of once great institutions. It is not my wish for TCU to become a “once great” school. With that taken into account, I understand that the administration must take some action to quell the waves of uncertainty that currently batter at our schools hull. So, as to not simply be the bringer of dire prophecy, I have devised a list of three solutions that will help still that water. Note that these are not demands. Simply universal truths, formed to fit the mold of our current situation.
- The demands made by certain groups are inherently racist and demeaning to many students. To be frank, telling white people to stop being racist is the same as telling black people not to steal, or telling men not to rape or telling women to start being rational. Therefore, to start, all the demands that have been put forward should be immediately set aside in disgust.
- Students should not be treated differently by the administration because of attributes with which they were born. All demeaning and racist programs at TCU should be done away with, including all programs that link value with ethnicity, such as affirmative action; the first-year orientation program that teaches men to stop raping women; and the quotas that treat certain minorities as if they were collectible figurines, to be shown off for vapid pats on the back for creating faux diversity. I can say, from talking to students and from personal experience, that these programs cause us to feel used and sold out by our own university.
- Free speech is central to opening up conversation and dissolving tension between groups. It is being demanded of you that free speech be abridged and that a student’s words may be met with disciplinary action, in order to stop controversial thoughts from being spoken. This works against making our campus an inclusive environment. The only way to rid TCU from discriminatory ideas is to foster a safe space in which controversial opinions can be aired. This would allow those with certain opinions to open themselves up to the people around them, and in turn, acquire a fuller perspective of the world.
I hope that you can ascertain the value of my words. I hope that, despite my blunt language, you still take my thoughts to heart. I hope that this letter shows you that there are voices on campus that are willing to stand for the freedoms of all students. I hope that you realize that those voices stand in solidarity with you and the values of this school. And finally, I hope that we can improve life on campus for all members of the TCU family, while holding firm against divisive ideology.
Alexander Benton Parris, computer science major
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