Words cannot describe the disappointment and anger we felt reading May 27’s “Specht Pages,” where—after launching a series of misogynistic, transphobic, and otherwise generally bigoted comments at the general Lawrence community—Specht suggested that Lawrence return to its ‘roots’ as a Methodist institution. This sentiment is not only preposterous, but fundamentally counter to the overall goal of this university.
Though Specht frequently approaches his topics from a satirical angle, suggesting the ridiculous to frame new discussions about the way we approach things here at Lawrence, this article somehow lacked that playful tone. We can take a joke, but it seemed clear that Specht might actually believe what he suggested.
Lawrence is not only a university that thrives on collaboration and co-operation, but a place where existing ideas are meant to be constantly tested and pushed to their limits, where questioning the status quo is encouraged, and where even those silenced by our society are occasionally allowed to have their voices heard. These qualities should not be abridged or even eliminated in favor of a closed and monolithic institution as Specht suggests, but fostered.
Specht further suggests that we “return to the beautiful roots of Lawrence,” but we are unsure to which roots he refers. Would he prefer to return to the Lawrence of 1928, which invited a speaker who openly used racial slurs during a ‘comic’ performance and was unopposed by the student body? Would he prefer to return to mere decades ago, when trans- and otherwise queer students feared for their safety on this campus? Or, perhaps, would he still settle for today, when students across this university who do not necessarily share Specht’s privileges still find it difficult to get things done?
Lawrence is far from perfect, but it is becoming easier for students of color, women, LGBTQIA students and those who practice any religion to find a home. Now is not the time to “return to our roots;” now is the time to encourage this diversity and continue moving forward.