Harassment has no place at Simpson

by Vista Kalipa

Part of the privilege and advantage of receiving a liberal arts education is that it provides us with an opportunity to enlighten ourselves and refine those areas in our personalities and interpersonal skills that need or needed alteration.

What we gain from this liberal arts privilege is to be used in our encounters with people of diverse backgrounds as we meet them along the way.

In last week’s issue of The Simpsonian, senior Jeff Caskey said that prior to his coming to Simpson College, he possessed an anti-gay attitude, but that changed after meeting a gay member of the Simpson community, whom he befriended. His attitude toward gay men then took a drastic step where he went from not liking them to defending them against violence and discrimination.

That, to me, is the sign of a healthy and educated mind. It is the true beauty that the liberal arts education provides us with.

In response to postings that were sent by a person who identified himself or herself as “Methodist” on the online discussion forum that this newspaper provides, I’ll go ahead and repeat myself when saying that prejudice stems from ignorance which comes from a lack of knowledge about the latter.

He or she said, “The Methodist Church [is] against homosexuality. I think this college is too open and needs to promote more Christian ethics.” Well, I say that a true Methodist would know the exact teachings, disciplines, and beliefs of the United Methodist Church. It is quite apparent that “Methodist” didn’t do enough research on the matter of which he speaks.

Under “Social Principles” from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 1992, the church takes the following position when dealing with issues of sexuality: “We recognize that sexuality is God’s good gift to all persons. We believe persons may be fully human only when the gift is acknowledged and affirmed by themselves, the Church, and society.”

When dealing, specifically, with the issue of homosexuality, the Methodist Church says, “Homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons, are individuals of sacred worth…Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to support those rights and liberties for homosexual persons.”

Given the above confirmation, it is then only fair to assume that “Methodist” has or had no factual basis for such statements.

Another aspect that needs to be considered is that of offensive language. When dealing with a matter that one doesn’t necessarily agree with, it is important to note that one uses appropriate language and express one’s opinions in a rather civilized and rational manner.

Simpson College’s harassment policy states, “The college is committed to providing an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination that constitute harassment. Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated.”

The college handbook goes on to explain what constitutes harassment. “Harassment behavior may exist when such conduct is made explicitly…when it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or academic environment.” Therefore, making someone feel uneasy and beside him/herself with fear is an unacceptable behavior and, as stated in the handbook, that is a violation of the college’s policy.

When people start attacking one another in an immature and irrational manner, it makes one wonder what kind of world we exist in. One of my professors said to me, “What the world lacks today is class.” And I would like to concur with him.

It is rather unsettling and unnerving to know that there are people out there who still find comfort in their prejudices. It is our duty as members of this society to try and educate one another and rid each other of our prejudices. They do not build our society but only destroy it. A healthy person is a person freed from all the horrors of this world. We need to get together as a community and make sure we pave a safe path for future generations.

In Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” Tom Wingfield’s final line to his sister Laura is, “For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles…” I don’t think that we should blow out our candles just yet. We need to keep them burning, keeping in mind that God is with us; therefore, the storm will soon pass and this world will no longer be lit by lightning.