Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

College is supposed to be a time to learn and grow as a young adult into a fully contributing member of society. However, at Mount Holyoke today it seems to have become an environment where students who are longing for a fantasy pretend the world is black and white.

In no better way is this encapsulated than by the behavior of students (and many alumnae) following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh and the Oct. 13, 2018 Washington Post article. Posts, petitions, op-eds and conversations – condemning everyone who doesn’t agree as the enemy.

All men are not evil, many Republican men are. All old people from the Midwest are not racist, only some of them. Republicans aren’t entirely hostile to immigration, only some of them are. The common element is the idea that lumping people together based on one portion of their identity is acceptable. But, as Mount Holyoke students know better than most — our identities are made up of many things.

Ask the Mount Holyoke population to tell you about themselves and you’ll get a sampling of the things that make up their identity. They are hockey-playing IR majors, Jewish biochem and poli-sci double majors who happen to be lesbians, Texans who think that diamond rings should cost as much as tuition and 5 million other things besides. Never do you hear that one’s identity is comprised solely of one aspect of themselves.

Why is it then that the same people who believe their identities are complex and individual can’t extrapolate that to view the world as it is — nuanced and filled with shades of grey?

Recently I have seen calls for the College to dismiss a tenured professor because of something that happened 30 years ago. The administration followed Title IX processes and the report was deemed complete and inconclusive. Sometimes that is the way the world works. Like it or not — this professor has rights, too. Should the College ensure that a top priority is ensuring the safety of everyone who lives at, attends and works for Mount Holyoke? Absolutely — and to all accounts they are. They have followed the law and done the things required to ensure that claims are investigated. Many people just don’t like the results.

The College is saying to look at the actions that were taken because they were the appropriate actions. They cannot take those actions, follow the policies and procedures laid out and then ignore those same policies because people don’t like the results. That isn’t how the world works — it’s how a fantasy works. If it were how the world worked Brexit wouldn’t have happened and Hillary Clinton would be president.

Should the professor in question retire and apologize, giving the school an easy way out? Of course. But like many parts of life it’s just not that simple. Pretending that it is makes smart people appear dumb. And it makes you appear unworthy of the diplomas that you will one day receive. — Margaret Fitzgerald ’12