Get involved


Get involved

A few years back, I remember reading, in either Newsweek or Time Magazine, that NIU ranked pretty high in a list of top 10 schools with “racial tensions.” However, when I transferred here two years ago, I didn’t really think that ranking was warranted. I mean, I never noticed any “racial tension” on this campus. Perhaps I was just ignorant. Now I’m sure that I was. I have to agree with what Wes Sweitek said in his column on April 2. There is definitely a “subtle racism” which pervades all of society, not just this campus. Perjurious stereotypes that are perpetuated by all of the media—TV, movies, magazines, etc.—tend to engender a sort of “subconscious racism.” Many of us do make stereotypical judgements and comments about minorities without even knowing it. These don’t always have to be overtly derogatory to us. We may say things that have negative connotations without intending to do so.

Yes, I admit it. I’m writing to defend the Star. Even faculty members are joining in on the most recent wave of “Star bashing.” Now, I can understand why so many are dissatisfied with the way they feel the Star has been depicting minorities. There are those who feel that the Star only presents blacks in a negative way, and that the only stories about blacks are those in which they are involved in violence. They claim that minority cultures do not get enough “positive press.” After reading the Star over the past few months, it is easy to understand why they feel this way. But, this is not done with the intent of making African-Americans, Latinos, or any other minority group look bad. I am not trying to take sides here. I just think that if we look closer at both sides of the conflict, maybe it can be dealt with better.

First, let us remember that the Star is run by students and it comes out every day. I think that’s pretty impressive (probably because the college I used to go to only put their paper out every other week). Second, let us also realize that the Star can’t please everybody. I’m sure they try to cover stories that the majority of the student body, at least, would be interested in (tuition hikes, etc.). We need to stop letting this militant “us” vs. “them” attitude prevent us from coming together to solve the problem. When two sides adopt pugnacious attitudes toward each other, it obviously acts as a divisive force, and only distances them further apart. I hope I’m not beating a dead horse when I say, regarding the demonstration in the Commons on the 27th, “Good idea, but poor execution.”

Solutions? Well, I’m not sure I have the answer. I do think that English instructor Jacques Bettes had an excellent idea in encouraging more minority students to petition for positions on the paper’s staff. Perhaps a section of the paper could be devoted solely to diversity on campus. I also think that councils like ASBAR are a step in the right direction. I actually feel that one positive thing has come out of this recent conflict—people are getting involved. If a college newspaper incites students to make a change, and makes people question and contend “the system,” well then I guess it’s doing its job. Maybe this whole thing also will help to remedy some of the “student apathy” around here, and get people to start thinking about more substantive issues than geese.

Rory Callaghan