Monday, September 10, 2007

Does This Mean I Can't Tell Michigan Jokes Anymore?

What Are They Gonna Do to the Band?
The Ohio State University has been named FIRE's (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) Speech Code of the Month for this Diversity Statement issued by the University Housing Office. Included in the statement are The Goals:

• Increase sensitivity to differences through exposure, dialogue, and personal reflection
• Address thoughtlessness that may limit our efforts
• Maintain a talented and qualified staff with a commitment and conviction toward diversity.
and The Expectations:
As a member of The Ohio State University residence hall community, the following are guidelines that we embrace to contribute to your success, as well as the positive experience for all students living in your hall.
Respect the variety of differences in the residence hall community through your actions, words, As a student in our community, you are asked to be respectful of these differences:
• Do not joke about differences related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, socioeconomic background, etc.
• Do not use obscene words or gestures. Oftentimes these are unwelcome and offensive to students in your community.
• Listen to other students living in your floor community. If a person indicates that a behavior or action is offensive, you should stop the behavior immediately.
• Actively challenge the stereotypes you have of others. Use your time to consider the new experiences you are having at The Ohio State University, instead of relying upon the past evaluations you have had of others.
• When in doubt about the impact of your words or actions, simply ask.

Here's where I'm troubled: Have you ever been on a college campus? Most college students can't utter a sentence without a swear word, let alone last a semester (or in this case a Quarter) without profanity. Now swearing is a violation of housing policy.

Secondly, if jokes about ability are "threatening", then one cannot discuss Michigan football on campus. We certainly can't tell the joke Q: Why doesn't Ohio slide into the Ohio River? A: because Michigan SUCKS! Due to this statement every single Ohio State student will need to buy new attire to wear to The Game--because F&*k Michigan certainly seems to an expression covered by this statement, as does Muck Fichigan, Screw Blue, and Ann Arbor is a whore. And those shirts are in abundance at every OSU Michigan game.

Buckeyes can't flip off the Michigan Band anymore and I can't wait to see what the university does to those students who throw full beers and half eaten hot dogs at the Michigan bus.

In all seriousness, it's certain that an esteemed university such as The Ohio State University has any ill intentions here, but the statement is vague, appears to be unenforceable (“Words, actions, and behaviors that inflict or threaten infliction of bodily or emotional harm, whether done intentionally or with reckless disregard, are not permitted.”--how is an RA going to enforce that? What does not permitted mean?), and has the potential to turn every normal roommate disagreement into a "he said/she said and it did me emotional harm" nightmare. Lastly it limits a student's free speech, it may unnecessarily impede valuable, honest intellectual dialog, and it assumes that students aren't adult enough to manage tricky situations on their own.

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