Not your typical end of the year column

I was going to do one of those soppy end-of-the-year columns. You know, the kind that reflects on the school year, gets all sentimental about the year’s end. I could tell NIU to buckle down and study for their finals and wish the soon-to-be graduates luck in their future careers.

But, I won’t.

Instead I’ve decided to disagree with our editorial board’s opinion on the Office of Student Orientation’s internal document that helps to train their student leaders.

Here’s a little background for those who don’t read the news: The document “A Matter of Respect” addresses the topics of racism, homophobia, persons with disabilities, sexual harassment, date rape and alcohol use. The problem pointed out by The Northern Star was that this document excessively covered homosexuality in relation to its other subjects. The section might have been a little bit longer, but it’s addressing a problem many are ignorant and unexposed to.

Yet, the section of homosexuality was labeled propaganda, while the rest of the packet was not. It was not labelled propaganda by a university official or a student organization, but basically by the first Star article on the subject.

If it’s university policy to battle homophobia in the NIU community to provide equal footing for homosexuals, than why is literature aiming towards this positive end labeled propaganda. The “facts” presented in the document are basically common sense, although I do agree that some facts presented are not exactly proven and can be argued.

I also see that nothing else in the packet was labeled propaganda, even though the alcohol use section and the homosexuality section use the same format of myth versus fact.

It is not an issue of a public university fighting on the moral battleground, as the editorial board claims, because society, including universities, is a part of the battleground and, therefore, reflects the current public opinion.

The university is not dictating values and morals of students. NIU isn’t full of students with a blank slate for a mind. They are very capable of forming their own opinions.

I mean, you can argue that students shouldn’t read newspapers with one-sided, half objective stories because the students’ view of the subject might be swayed. That sounds a lot more like propaganda to me.

I heard the argument that if the homosexuality message negative, like saying all lesbians want to be men and claiming that statement to be true, it’s the same concept as the positive message of accepting homosexuals the document is trying to convey.

But then that means the document is propagating when alcohol use section presents a negative statement, like the majority of college students drink to get drunk, as a myth and counters it with statistics of how students drink?

I don’t think so—it can’t be called propaganda for only one section of the document and not for any of the others.

What this document is trying to do is to suggest views on the subjects covered, not require that students believe them. As long as the homophobe doesn’t violate any rights of the homosexual, then he is entitled to his belief.

But just because a person is a homophobe now doesn’t mean he can’t learn to accept the homosexual later.

If the university is to try to combat racism, discrimination and prejudice, how are they suppose to do it if they are not allowed to say a word?


The document from Student Orientation only reflected NIU’s current stance on the issue. Nowhere did the document state a student had to believe its contents, but maybe the students could just listen to them. Because listening is the first step towards understanding those around us and who share the world with us.