To the Editor:
In a Letter to the Editor published last week, a group from the Class of 2015 expressed frustration with our community for reacting to what they saw as inappropriate in the arrival of former President George H.W. Bush ’42 to campus. They urged us to consider a list of “atrocities” committed by Bush while in office and criticized the faculty for stunting conversation and the students for not voicing any sort of dissatisfaction with his presence on campus.
I must say I agreed with some of their points. While it didn’t cross my mind at the time, it does seem rather strange to have such a distinguished politician on campus and shy away from politics. And it would be fair to argue that many of his policies did contradict many of the values upon which our institution stands today.
Ultimately, however, there was no overt controversy surrounding Bush’s visit because Bush’s visit was not very controversial. Neither he nor Mary Kate Cary, the executive producer of “41on41,” made any attempts to cast a positive light on his politics or his policies. Rather, the All-School Meeting (ASM) was about respect for a seasoned member of our community, who was a friendly face and role model for Republicans and Democrats alike.
Bush himself was hardly an imposing figure in person, and no one could find any sort of conservative propaganda in his brief comments about his neck injury. The visit felt like a farewell for the 91-year-old man. And for a man who did his best to incorporate a Non-Sibi spirit in both his personal and political life, he certainly deserves his farewell.
Frankly, there are other conversations and debates that are more worthy of our time (and are more relevant to the present day). Sexual assault and unhealthy relationships, both platonic and sexual. Heteronormative assumptions inherent in our school and society. Continued and unwarranted aggression toward campus feminist groups. The lack of widespread conversation about socioeconomic class. The sheer number of students who struggle with mental health issues. The persistent tensions that accompany an intentionally diverse community. And the large proportion of students still untouched and unmoved by all these social issues.
Just to name a few.
This is what we have to talk about on campus — not the morality of a man from decades ago, but problems that affect us right here, right now.
Adrienne Allen ’16
Allesandra Allen ’16
Alisa Bhakta ’16
Maddie Comer ’16
Anna Dear ’16
Elizabeth McGonnagle ’16
Ashley Scott ’16