November 5, 2008 will stay in the minds of N.C. State students as being a dark day in campus life. The hurtful messages that were displayed on the Free Expression Tunnel pulled at our heart strings and caused an uncomfortable feeling around campus. People got angry. Others began to question who their friends really were and their intentions. Who really are our friends and how do our classmates truly feel about us?
To ease the tension around campus the Campus Culture Task Force was created. The group consists of faculty, administration and students that have taken it upon themselves to evaluate student conduct and potentially create guidelines for the Free Expression Tunnel. The report that the task force issued is open to all N.C. State students to comment on, but there seems to be a lack of response. Even though it seems that things were heated around campus and there were various opinions thrown back and forth, few of them made it to the task force. When great displays of hate are made one would think that everybody would be lined up at the door to speak their mind on the matter. In a way it surprises me that students have not responded. On the other hand, the lack of response isn’t that outrageous to fathom.
First of all, I feel as if the survey was a very impersonal way to reach people. We answer surveys all the time (i.e. class evaluations) and it gets rather routine and boring after a while. Granted, what was sent out concerning the task force was of the upmost importance although it wasn’t very appealing. It is hard to reach a large population of people in a short amount of time if the surveys are not sent through e-mail. I am just making a point that because of this it is easy to just not pay attention to it.
I believe that there was a lack of response because students feel as if nothing is going to be done about it. Yes, we can talk all we want, but what is going to come of it? You can compare this to people not voting in national elections. They have lost faith in the national government just as N.C. State students have lost faith in our university administration. This is in no way the students fault. One cannot blame someone for ignoring something they feel will have no effect.
There was also the question of the chancellor taking the matter seriously. We have all known or heard of people in power just sweeping things under the rug and hoping that it will go away. I am sure he is a much more concerned than people think he is. This type of situation could, if handled improperly, be damaging in the long run.
I feel that the chancellor does have our best interest at heart and that he was also offended by such messages. Although, since he is a man of power and prestige he has a reputation to uphold. If he went too radical on the issue then how would others see him? The student body would probably appreciate a radical outburst from him, but higher authorities might not. So I feel as if he is going through a dilemma and has yet to come to a decision.
On the other hand, some students believe the Task Force to be a step in the right direction. One student who wished to be quoted was Rene Norman a junior in psychology. She says, “I think the task force has a positive impact on the University. It’s reinforcing the stance that the University has taken against the hate speech on campus. If the suggestions of the task force are implemented, I think they will be well received since the task force isn’t just made up of administrative personnel, but students as well.”
Overall, I believe the Task Force will only be effective with more student comments and input on the issue. All of the technicalities of it may not be the most exciting pieces of information, but it will help students now and in the long run. I am under the impression that the majority of students would be sad to see the Free Expression tunnel be done away with. It is one of the symbols that the student voice does matter and I could not imagine the University without it. So, get involved so this problem can be resolved.