A new era: President Greene reacts

In the beginning of the school year, I had the pleasure of sitting down for 45 minutes with President David Greene to interview him for an Echo profile that turned into two pieces—one in the News Section and another in the Features Section.

At one point during the interview, Greene asked me what I felt the administration could do better. I tentatively, but firmly responded by saying “transparency.” Especially in the 2013-14 school year I felt there were numerous events, such as those related to sexual assault, underage drinking, and discrimination, as well as the banning of the Rugby team, that greatly impacted and frustrated the student body, but were not openly addressed by the administration in a public and inclusive manner.

Our conversation continued until we got to the matter of anonymous posts, where I mentioned Colby Confessions and the app, Yik Yak, which was new at the time. Greene said, “I find anonymous posts very troubling…They can cause great damage to community… We need to be able to have the most difficult conversations but defend statements and defend beliefs that disappear in anonymous chat rooms.”

He then went on to say, “What I want to do is create space on campus to have conversations in person, an on-going community forum to have discussions about whatever issues come up and put them out on the table and address issues that affect community through proactive, hard conversations.”

I would like to applaud Greene because in light of recent events, it is clear that he truly followed through with what he said to me on that fall day regarding action in response to anonymous, harmful comments. Recently, extremely ignorant, hurtful and racist comments were posted on Yik Yak. SOBHU courageously and effectively responded to these comments, as did many other individuals and clubs such as SGA, to spread awareness about the comments and the issues of racism facing Colby.

Then on Thursday, April 16, at 12:15 p.m. President David Greene, along with three other faculty members, spoke outside Pulver to directly address both these comments and the predominant and underlying issues of racism, discrimination, and other forms of prejudice that consistently haunt the College and negatively impact individuals and the community as a whole.

I feel proud to be at a College where our President takes such deliberate, public, and direct approaches to issues that directly face the student body. My hope that the new College presidency would result in increased administrative transparency and more direct addressing of student issues seems to have come true.

I would like to formally thank President Greene, all the students involved in spreading awareness for these and other discrimination based issues, as well as other faculty and staff of the college who have gone out of their way to bring to light issues of prejudice on the campus.

Thank you President Greene for taking a deliberate, effective, and public action on a student and community-based issue. I think that the speech was very thoughtful and effective and will result in a positive impact for the community as a whole. Thank you for taking the time to do what past administrations have neglected to do. Lastly, thank you for reaffirming my faith that while, yes Colby is not perfect—Colby contains racism, prejudice and ignorance—if we have a motivated, open, and active administration, we can tackle these issues and look towards a better Colby and a more informed and considerate student body.

My hope is that this event has taught our community that anonymous-based applications and forums have no positive impact on the student body. Just as bigotry and hatred have no place at Colby, as Greene said, neither do the anonymous posts that perpetuate the uninformed and hurtful comments of a few. So right now, take out your phone and delete YikYak. It may seem like a small action, but if this event has taught us anything, it’s that the small action of a few can have a resounding impact.

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