Open forum addresses incidences of disrespect

Ellie Crean

Last week, Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell held an open forum for all Lawrentians. About 15 students showed up, as did several other members of the Lawrence community, including staff from the Residence Life office, staff from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and people who wanted to hear what students had to say.
The overall theme of this forum was that Lawrence is becoming an increasingly disrespectful community. Specific examples of recent disrespect include homophobia, a lack of respect for differing political opinions and theft.
The forum decided that the best ways to stop the increasing prevalence of disrespect are to educate people, to make them aware of what is happening and to emphasize that disrespect is not acceptable.
None of those present at the forum had seen such widespread disrespect at Lawrence as has taken place this year. The evening started off with a discussion on homophobia, which appeared to be a topic that was more prevalent than most expected.
It became apparent that cases of homophobia are not always reported, since some students decide to either ignore them or deal with them without outside assistance. Truesdell made it clear that homophobia is not acceptable and that all those who act in homophobic ways will face consequences for their actions.
The next topic covered at the forum concerned people’s actions during and after the election. Lawrence is an overwhelmingly liberal community. This does not mean, however, that those who have differing opinions are wrong or should be treated with disrespect. The forum discussed the idea that conservatives are a minority at Lawrence and should be treated with the respect and acceptance that other minorities receive.
Theft was another issue that the forum brought to the fore. Although there have been relatively few incidents, any thefts at Lawrence become prominent, because people previously did not think that theft happened here.
Security cameras have been put up in the Colman lounge to prevent theft while people are eating at Lucinda’s. It disappointed all of those present at the forum that this measure was needed.
Many student organizations and offices on campus are working hard to make Lawrence into the accepting community that it should be, but in order for them to make a difference, they need students to take up this initiative and work together to transform our community.
All of those present at the forum seemed to agree that all students should help create a community of respect for people’s differences and do everything in their power to create an accepting and respectful community.