Thursday, April 22, 2004

Plays we need in St. Cloud 

The mood of many on campus is sour after the announcment that mandatory diversity training is really mandatory, but let's see if we can distill honey out of gall. Critical Mass has excerpted a play called Spinning into Butter, which describes how administrators react to a racist letter left on the dorm room door of a student of color. Here's a snip of the dialogue between deans after reading the letters.
Dean 3: ... we have to decide what to do. ... We have a dangerous racist in our midst.
Dean 2: I suppose someone from security could watch his dorm, or if he wants to--
Dean 3: (Interrupting, overlapping) No no no. The question is: How do we punish this racist?
Dean 1: Won't we expel him?
Prof: Or her?
Dean 3: (Overlapping) That's a defensive action. We have to be pro-active on this. We must make it known, loud and clear, that this sentiment, this trash, is not Belmont. That Belmont cannot be reduced to this outrageous action. We should issue some sort of statement right away, condemning this--
Dean 1: (Interrupting) I think we should try to find out who did it first, before we go around issuing statements.
Dean 2: Technically we should call President Garvey and ask him what to do.
Prof: Garvey won't know what to do. He's so out of touch. Burton's right. I think we should make a public gesture of some sort. We should call a campus-wide meeting so we can discuss what's going on.
Dean 3: Yes.
Dean 1: Don't you think we should talk to Simon [the student who received the notes] first?
Prof: Look, we pride ourselves on our inclusiveness. We claim to embrace cultural diversity. And yet some racist is running loose on campus, and I would wager that this idiot is very much like all our other students in appearance and manner and class, and that's what we need to reveal. That racism isn't somebody else's problem. It's our problem. If we handle this right, it could be a real learning experience for the students.
Dean 2: All right, then. Good. This seems like the sort of response we should have, doesn't it? If it leaks out to any of the parents and some irate mother calls me, I can say, 'We've already organized a campus meeting in order to reduce any stress or obviate any adverse reactions....' Something like that.
&c. I believe that this play would make a fine Convocation Day activity, an opportunity to let some faculty take a turn imitating administrators, and a learning experience that might be more productive than Jugglers Against Oppression. And none will dare call it mandatory.