When angry, take a deep breath and count to 10. I’ve counted to 10 – 10 days to be exact. I thought the passing of time would help to clear my mind of some of the cloudy haze of frustration, anger and disgust. In the meantime, I’ve been confronted by voices – from both outside and within – urging me to drop it. They ask, is it really worth your time? Quite honestly, I don’t know if it is. But I’m writing anyway. I’m writing because someone needs to speak up. I’m writing because I’ve challenged my students to figure out what moves them, to take a stand, and to act and speak when necessary. And I’m writing because I care.
I’ve been noticing more and more an increase in the “objectification” of others. You know what I’m talking about – viewing others as less than human or at least viewing ourselves as having more value than them. And you know who I’m talking about – the janitor who cleans our toilets, the girl who hands us fries at the drive-thru window, the men who wash our cars. These people are obvious examples of the nameless faces that tend to our needs and wants.
Enter Kate Rice’s article “Just your T.A. or Just T&A?” (Daily Nexus, May 12) and the issues that move me to write this piece.
It is less about the subject matter that I find most disturbing and more about the nature of the discussion. Some may argue that her article is merely a social commentary or even a satirical piece on unspoken taboos in our highly reputable university. I, for one, believe that we need to have spaces to discuss issues that are viewed as socially unacceptable and often overlooked. However, in this particular article, the dialogue is disrespectful to both teaching assistants and students.
Perhaps it provided a good laugh as you read for its sheer entertainment value. Yet, this article hints at more than mere sexual exploration and education. It ventures into an area that could have serious consequences beyond an individual level – it deals with institutional and professional integrity. Rice may publish poorly written crap, but she is not clueless. As she clearly indicates in the first words of her article, she knows that TAs may face dire consequences if they pursue and/or have sexual relations with students – “…it’s almost the end of the school year, and you know what that means… it’s time to try to get some folks fired.”
Lighten up, you say? It’s not that big of deal, right? Let me ask you, then: When is it a big deal – or even a deal? When do we care? When do we request – no, demand – that people take responsibility for their words and actions? People frequently reference the First Amendment – part of which includes ideas of free speech and free press – to support their “right” to say and write whatever they want. But when should we be held accountable for our actions, inactions, words and silence? And is there not a certain responsibility given to those who put their words in public space?
What stands out the most to me is how flippantly Rice dehumanizes a whole group of people: TAs. It’s back to the idea of giving them a label, lumping them into a category and voil