Sad and frightening

I am responding to the recent controversy about our campus “nudist” who is being ousted from his humble abode at Neptune Hall. I already knew that NIU was not very big on individuality and free expression but this episode borders on the ridiculous.

Can you believe this guy? He dared to actually venture into the hall in (gasp!) a towel and dared post the picture of one very thin-skinned bureaucrat on his door. Whether he was wearing anything “under there” will without a doubt be a topic of discussion and titillation for quite some time.

How did the university react to this brief spark of deviance? They nailed the offender to the proverbial wall. “Unauthorized posting on university property???” I find it both sad and frightening an institution which is supposed to foster free thought has and enforces such a policy.

The arrest and impending homelessness of the “nudist” give a clear message to students: conform or be cast out. Spit back those answers on a scan-tron, get that diploma and go quietly to work for Motorola.

The time has come to draw the line. Even if we do not approve of what the “nudist” did, we should emphatically oppose any restrictions on free expression. A college is supposed to be a place where new ideas are voiced and listened to with tolerance. NIU is apathetic enough. The last thing we need around here is an overblown example of suppression.

I’m not saying Tom Ryan is anyone’s revolutionary or that watching “Seinfeld” in a bath towel will be the spear of a belated “Generation X” push to define itself. However, I feel the administration is way out of line in what may be an attempt to show the student “body” they are willing to suppress anything that offends their moral principles.

So everyone, what will it be? Today, it’s a “nudist.” Tomorrow, it may be the suspension of students involved in a protest rally. The next day, they may try to impose a dress code. Unless we collectively find the nerve to protest this outrage, the suppression will only stop where and when the bureaucrats want it to stop.

Rich Bruen

Graduate Student