In a history class I took, it was decided that President Jimmy Carter failed to get re-elected because he told the American people the truth, even when they didn’t want to hear it. That same phenomenon happened to Alex Knepper last year, which led to him resigning from The Eagle.
His piece was harsh, provocative and true. He pointed out an ugly truth with what happens when some people go to parties. They’re looking to get drunk and very often are looking to hook up. Stating it upset a lot of people on campus and in the area, with members of the AU community calling for his dismissal as well as the resignation of The Eagle’s editors.
In the Feb. 22 issue of The Eagle, Conor Shapiro wrote another column on rape. And nothing was said. There was no yelling, or screaming or calls for his dismissal. Why? Because he supported the viewpoints and arguments of the feminist movement and more importantly, Women’s Initiative. WI is by far the most powerful student group on campus — unsurprising, considering the demographics of AU. As it stands, Mr. Shapiro’s article coincided with the group’s views, whereas Mr. Knepper’s article did not.
It’s difficult to argue on campus for equality in dialogue when WI shouts down any who disagree with their opinion. For instance, look at the debate on the Women’s Resource Center in fall 2009. The WRC was going to be a physical space on campus for women, with a paid staff member. Never mind that it was a redundant office, providing services that were already provided by the Student Health Center, Public Safety and the Counseling Center — if you were against it, you didn’t support women. Never mind that the group that really needed that space, veterans, were only given an online Web page listing resources. The WRC needed to be built and it needed a paid staff member to support the majority of the student population.
So when Mr. Shapiro writes his articles, he is in the clear, being on the right side of WI. I don’t discount what happened to his sister — it’s a tragedy — but as any good scientist, political or otherwise, knows, one must be critical of statistics. Anecdotal evidence is not sufficient support for a claim.
The outrage should not be against Mr. Knepper and his column for telling the ugly truth, but against those who support witch burning for those they disagree with. If the WI truly cared about starting a dialogue about these very important issues they would have tried to engage Mr. Knepper in conversation rather than condemning the article.
WI doesn’t denounce Mr. Shapiro’s article because it feeds into their interests. Rather than condemning honest conversation just because it doesn’t agree with a feminist worldview, WI should appreciate the viewpoints of authors with varied experiences. It would be no surprise if Mr. Shapiro, knowing the power WI has on campus, would play it safe by pandering to them. He’s seen what can happen if you challenge WI’s preconceived notions with intellectual honesty: You become a pariah, a marked man on campus, simply for telling the truth.
Robert Ruszczyk is a junior in the School of Public Affairs.