To Combat Dissonance

Think back to the year before you came to Reed, to finding those glossy brochures in the mail and pushing aside your Stanford and Berkeley applications to learn of that strange and wonderful liberal arts college nestled in the heart of Portland. Recall the education they promised, an education “characterized by close interaction between students and faculty in an atmosphere of shared scholarly concern and active learning.”

We, a concerned group of students, believe that our education is under attack. Reedies Against Racism (RAR) has repeatedly upset our classrooms with their protests, using everything from signs to pre-lecture introductions to incite disorder in our educational space, even forcing the cancellation of Hum lecture several times. To cite President Kroger’s statement on RAR’s September 25th boycott and Noise Parade through Hum lecture, “it is wrong for some students to protest in a manner that disrupts teaching and prevents other students from attending class and obtaining the education they came to Reed to pursue.” So, we have organized to form Reedies Against Reedies Against Racism (RARAR), a group dedicated to preserving order on campus and to maintaining the smooth functioning of the educational process.

We are not alone in our efforts. As detailed in an email from Nigel Nicholson, Mike Brody, and Bruce Smith that was sent to those who participated in the September 25th Noise Parade, the Hum faculty has decided by majority vote to exclude all protesters not enrolled in Hum 110 from Hum lecture. Furthermore, the three administrators noted that they “are in the process of attempting to identify all the protestors,” warning the freshmen that any further participation in Hum lecture protests will “likely result in prohibition from the lectures” and inviting all protesters to an honor process mediation, adding that refusing the invitation would result in “a complaint to the Judicial Board, addressing...a clear violation of the Dissent Policy.” RARAR applauds these measures against disorder. Again, President Kroger’s September 25th response letter sums up our view well, stating that, “marching through a lecture hall while chanting prevents other students from hearing the lecture and, as such, is an unacceptable disruption of the educational process.” We are at Reed to get an education, an education that, as Reed’s Mission Statement declares, produces individuals that “learn and demonstrate rigor and independence in their habits of thought, inquiry, and expression.” If not for excluding protesters from Hum lecture, how could we learn? If not for the identification and exclusion of dissidents, how could our independent thought and inquiry proceed?

However, RARAR does not believe that these reprimands are enough. Disruptions of learning lurk in every corner. Consider: humans are free. Their behavior is unpredictable. At any moment, without warning, anyone sitting in Hum lecture could be struck with the whim to cause a disturbance. That is, so long as there is anybody in the classroom, the potential exists for disorder to arise. Therefore, in the interest of preventing all possible interruptions of our educational process and our study of the humanities, we urge the Hum faculty and the Reed administration to expand their efforts, to ban not only protestors from Hum lecture, but to bar every student and professor, every administrator and person from attending Hum lecture. We hold that an empty classroom is an orderly classroom, and only with this policy in place can we be certain that Vollum Lecture Hall will have the quiet and order necessary for our education.

This modest proposal does not exceed the Hum faculty’s authority. Dire circumstances such as these require measures above and beyond the norm, and already the Hum faculty has sensed this need. As the email to the offending protesters states, “this is not a question of dissent policy or the honor principle, and does not represent part of the judicial process.” We cannot agree more. When an institution’s established procedures for functioning are under attack, it is not the time for agreed-upon policies, principles, or processes: only extra-judicial action can suffice. Therefore, not only do we commend the Hum faculty’s invitation to the RAR agitators for mediation, we hail their threat to submit a complaint about each one of these malcontents for the Judicial Board’s review as the next step forward. Every instance of disorder on our campus robs us of another aspect of our education, and while RAR’s conduct may not be a question for the Dissent Policy, the honor principle, or the judicial process, their punishment certainly is.

RARAR will meet every Friday from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Vollum Lecture Hall. Pending recommendations from Gary Granger for private security firms, Nigel Nicholson, Mike Brody, and Bruce Smith have graciously offered to prevent RARAR members and those interested in the group from entering the classroom during this time.