Keep Campus Politics Clean: Petty Attacks Ruin Everyone’s Day
During the Democratic primaries of 2008, at a time when Obamamania had swept many of my friends off their feet, I remained neutral for as long as possible, adamant (perhaps foolishly) that both candidates were qualified for the job. The moment Clinton lost my support was the moment her ads devolved from uplifting mantras about a new era to name-calling and finger-pointing. It was disheartening to see a woman I’d idolized for so long for her strength and integrity resort to such petty tactics.
If it was discouraging to see on the national political stage, where such strategies are a tradition as old as elections themselves, it’s downright upsetting to see it happening at Wesleyan. The recent post Jeff Stein ’10 (who, might I point out, is no longer a student at Wes, having graduated last semester) submitted to Wesleying bashing presidential candidate Micah Feiring ’11was beyond petty—it was downright scummy.
It is one thing to criticize Feiring for his poor handling of the 190 High St. debacle, an issue that is both political and relevant to the student body as a whole, but it is entirely another to call him “loud and obnoxious.” Whatever Stein’s personal issues with Feiring are, a campaign post on Wesleying is no place to attack his character flaws.
Certainly, this post could have been written in a much more professional and less disparaging tone. For one, putting “DO NOT ELECT MICAH FEIRING” in all caps at the beginning makes it look like something a fifth-grader wrote. Feiring’s hastiness in pulling up the floors of 190 High St. could have been explained in a less patronizing way—rather than calling his actions “dumb and egregious” (which are really better adjectives for Stein’s tirade), his unprofessionalism and lack of foresight could have been pointed to. And if Stein really sees Feiring’s “loud and obnoxious qualities” as flaws that would prevent him from being a good president, show us why—give us an example of the last time Feiring’s loudness lost administrative support for a WSA proposal or his obnoxiousness prevented him from improving student life. Such an immature rant only serves to make Feiring look more competent in comparison.
I wholeheartedly support the Wesleying staff’s decision to remove the attack from the site. However, I don’t agree with Ashik Siddique ‘10’s suggestion that if someone wants to name-call, they take it to The Argus in the form of a Wespeak or post it on the ACB. Is it really so hard to imagine a campus that is simply free of hate-vertisements? We are a 2,700-person community—we pass each other on our way to and from classes everyday, we party together, we study next to each other in Olin. This should not be an environment where people feel comfortable attacking one another so personally.
I feel like I’m writing an article for an anti-bullying campaign, but it’s true—rants like this one serve not as a way to improve campus politics or fight for issues that students care about, but simply as a masked version of nasty grade-school insults.
So, with three days left of elections, let’s keep it clean, Wesleyan. That doesn’t mean cutting off “serious questions about the competence of one of the candidates” as fellow Argus editor Rob Wohl accused the Wesleying staff of doing. It means keeping the malice and immature accusations out and waging a legitimate political battle that gets down to the real issues. This might not be the most important election of our lifetimes, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t act like decent, respectful adults.