Maggie Habashyís Feb. 13 column, ìSelf-segregation at Coffman Union,î was truthful and tactful. She wrote that she believed Coffmanís second floor, which is filled with student groups, is not fulfilling its purpose: to bring different people together. She wrote of her feeling that instead of promoting awareness for different causes, these groups were furthering their exclusivity. And as a person whoís been here three years, she has enough experience to support her argument.
I put down the Daily that day, proud that someone was finally saying something about this. Unless you are involved with a certain student group, if you step foot inside their premises, you should be ready for some major discomfort. Soon, though, I was hearing a buzz around me that the student groups mentioned briefly in the article were angry about it. There was even talk of orchestrating a meeting with the columnist.
I was appalled by this behavior. I expected the leaders of student groups in general ó specifically those mentioned ó to gather their groups together and try to come up with a solution to make their student group more approachable. Naturally, if I feel uncomfortable going into a space, then why would I spend time trying to understand what it is there for? This should have been a wake-up call, not a reason for them to attack a columnist from your campus newspaper. Give me a break!
The reason this uproar, if you will, occurred is that people simply canít handle the truth. Once it is told, there is always an inherent defense in oneís reaction. It is a person of character who can rise above the initial reaction and ask why. This scenario briefly reminded me of the Seinfeld episode about truth when Georgeís girlfriend ends up putting herself in a mental facility because he told her she was pretentious. As much as people say, ìTell me why; I want to know,î ó they just donít.
Wouldnít it just be easier if people could just give and receive truth without falling apart? A major flaw such as not fulfilling oneís purpose seems important enough for truth. If your friend was going commando and her fly was down, wouldnít you tell her? Surely you wouldnít leave her walking around for the entire world to see; instead, you would fix the situation before any more damage was done.
If truth were such a bad thing, why do we strive for it and demand it from others? Wouldnít relationships survive longer if one person slipped up one drunken night and didnít tell their significant other about it? Wouldnít we sleep more soundly if our government continued to keep immense amounts of information from us?
If truth is so damn good, why do we shy away from it when it faces us? If truth is a homeless man with no legs sitting on the sidewalk against a wall, then why do we turn our heads and look away when we see him? How can we fix something if we donít know what it is? We canít just leave the big elephant in the room all the time. We need to speak up and take matters into our own hands.
No wonder there are so many problems in the world. We see a commercial about poverty in Africa and we change the channel. We see a man handing out fliers about children being prostituted and sold into slavery by the hundreds of thousands in Uganda and we try to sneak past him without making eye contact. If you make contact, you have to take the flier from his hand.
As for the student groups, I do agree with Habashy that even if a large ìsuper groupî was formed, people would naturally gravitate to ìtheir kind,î whomever that may be. But the problem should be addressed either way. The fly should be zipped up before the problem gets any worse and the animosity between different student groups deepens.
I donít fully comprehend why these student groups got so riled up in the first place. Habashy did not list them and say ìI was egged when I walked into the following places.î She made a comment about a comprehensive problem in our school community. She shouldnít be faulted for that; she should be commended for bringing the issue to light.
We should make poverty history. We should grasp that Uganda flier firmly. We should look the homeless man in the eye and apologize for his state of affairs. We should stare truth in the face. Only by doing that can we improve our situations and the situations of those around us.
Ayah Helmy is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]