The Nile Is Also A River In Boston
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a friend's apartment watching "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. This friend of mine had a pair of gerbils that were placed in a cage fairly close to the television set and were, apparently, in heat. Although I tried to ignore it, I couldn't help noticing Napoleon and Josephine engaging in "romantic relations," stopping to look at the television for a moment before returning to their more carnal activities. I couldn't help noticing because I remember thinking that that's what John Silber must see in his head every time he thinks of his students - mindless screwing gerbils.
I will always remember the Daily Free Press' interview with Chancellor Silber at the end of my Freshman year - the one in which he said something about his students rotting until Hell freezes over before the guest policy changes. When I read those lines for the first time, I was shocked. How could someone whose primary job is to advise the running and maintenance of a major university be so callous toward the most massive and important part of that university - the students? I remember honestly thinking it was some kind of joke, and as my roommate read the interview aloud in our floor lounge, punctured with the occasional maniacal laugh, I joined in laughing. Over the last two years, I have continued to read, with interest, Chancellor Silber's occasional lunatic rants in the Freep, but lately I find that my laughter has been replaced with scowls and shouted expletives.
Silber's most recent letter, entitled "Comparing important opinions," makes it very clear that he has nothing but disdain for his students. With a condescending tone and obnoxiously smug vocabulary, Silber belittles both his students and himself by showing how truly ignorant he is, of both his students' needs and of the times we live in. In the neighborhood of higher education, he's the crazy old man at the end of the block - the one who sits on his porch on a rocking chair, shooting at kids who hit baseballs into his yard and yelling at girls because their skirts aren't long enough.
Much has been said recently concerning Silber's fantastical views of his students' sexual lives, but there is something else in Silber's diatribes that bothers me even more than his hyper-Puritanical view of adolescence - his Nixon-esque concept of a Silent Majority. Recalling when the current visitation policy was first implemented, Silber writes of "many sighs of relief from students who were silent about their dissatisfaction with the old policies because they did not care to be bullied by those publicly opposed to restrictions on guest policies."
To me, this is just sad, but it does seem to fit in with the rest of Chancellor Silber's worldview. Not only are we students unable to control our hormonal impulses, but we are also unable to stand up and speak our own thoughts, especially if they're unpopular. I wonder if Chancellor Silber has read the myriad of opinions that have appeared on these very newspaper pages. I wonder if he has ever listened in on an interesting political discussion between friends eating lunch at the GSU. More often, I wonder if he knows who the statue in Marsh Plaza is dedicated to, or what he did to deserve a statue in the first place. Can someone's views honestly be that clouded by such an abhorrent absence of knowledge?
I know you're somewhat of a philosophy man, Chancellor Silber, so let's do a little bit of philosophizing The principle of Occum's Razor basically states that the simplest solution is most often the correct one. Why don't we try applying this to your current views about the silent sighers? Let's say you receive a certain number of letters bemoaning the current guest policy as ineffectual, inconveniencing and outdated and another, much smaller number of letters thanking you for implementing it. What's the simpler reason for this? That there is an enormous network of people who really, really love the guest policy, but are intimidated enough by peer pressure to the point where they won't even send you a private letter? Or that the vast majority of people at the school truly dislike the guest policy? I've got a guess, but you're the one with the PhD. from Yale. I wonder who'll be right in the end.
The bottom line is this: The guest policy, as it stands today, is more of a hindrance than a help to the students of this university. It is illogical and unnecessary, and in my three years here, I have yet to hear an administrator use an argument for its existence besides "because we're older and we know better" or "most people like it, they just don't say so." Maybe it's time to step out of that murky river, Chancellor. Denial is a powerful thing, indeed, but Truth will always triumph in the end. Even Nixon figured that one out.