November 22, 2005

Take a stand

This fall marks the fifth year that Chicago Friends of Israel posters have been defaced on campus—and the fifth year that the administration has not officially responded to what has become a pattern of defacement.

In response to recent complaints, the administration sent its annual e-mail on academic freedom to the University community earlier than it has in years past. Still, Vice President Steve Klass clarified that this e-mail was not written in response to the poster defacement incidents.

The pattern of defacements serves as evidence of a larger, more deeply rooted problem than one that can be solved via a simple University response or statement. The University’s general stance on issues of diversity is implicit in all of the measures it has taken to prevent any racial, political, or religious tension within the University community. Upon matriculation at the U of C, first-years attend talks, receive pamphlets, and watch videos in order to be made aware of the administration’s emphasis on creating a strong community where people of various beliefs and backgrounds can co-exist, and even further, benefit from the dialogue and discourse that such a mixed academic environment can nourish.

While an e-mail formally and specifically stating the University’s stance on these incidents might not serve as the solution to such a long-term problem like that of the poster defacements, a message sent to the University community—one condemning such behavior as unacceptable—would garner awareness of an issue that might otherwise go unnoticed. Furthermore, the administration should explicitly acknowledge the issue as one that has persisted over a significant period of time.