Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Who Does the Educating Here?

For over half of this school year, Whitman College has committed a series of questionable political actions that have disenchanted our community and lifted the veil on our administration’s incompetence.

If there was an award for the most politically insensitive statement, I’d give it to a staff or faculty member here. 

Students have held sit-ins and protested in order to demand action from the school for their expenditure. It’s amazing to see so many students who are politically aware and educated, but unfortunately the College is not a total reflection of the student body. 

From a thoughtless email sent out by the school’s listserv to students, to the supposedly “neutral” statements made in class and overall by several professors, Whitman has failed to do their due diligence and maintain a politically positive environment.

Saying, as select Whitman faculty did on Oct. 15, that, “October 7, 2023 marked the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust,” while ignoring the immense loss of Palestinian life since 1948 as an initial reaction to the situation, was extremely insensitive to say the least.

In this email, the Palestinian struggle is an afterthought, only mentioned to pacify anyone brave enough to accuse them of being biased.

Making biased statements to impressionable students disguised as helpful updates on the political state across the world in Gaza is insensitive and hypocritical. Using purposefully inflammatory and discriminatory language and still assuming you are accurately updating people is delusion. 

While mentioning the truth of the violence against Israelis is necessary, using extreme and graphic language when mentioning the isolated incidents in October and then simply putting, “We profoundly ache for the Palestinian lives that are being lost” at the end of the email, with no equally gruesome depiction of the decades of torture Palestinians have fought against, is abhorrent. 

Any staff or faculty members who I have heard speak on behalf of Palestine have been careful to at least use accurate, if not unnecessarily kind, language when mentioning the genocide. The same cannot be said for those speaking on the behalf of Israel. 

Our school claims to be neutral and vows to provide accurate political information, perhaps just in favor of legal status for their taxes, but I’ll do them a favor and go along with their performative honesty. 

It is a fact in this case concerning the genocide in Palestine, that there has been an uneven distribution in the amount of attention drawn to certain demographics. 

A group of staff sent out a separate message shortly after the Oct. 15 email which had used the terms “Jewish” and “Israeli” interchangeably. Titled “Statement on Palestine,” this message was a kind redirection by professors in an attempt to educate students.

As a student myself, it disappointed me to hear and see things like this. I myself am a first-year, but a semester has done wonders in terms of revealing Whitman’s insensitivity and censorship, political and otherwise. 

During class last semester, for example, I was accused by my professor of being ‘biased’ when I shared that the Palestinian death toll was higher than the Israeli death toll. 

Then, of course, emails were sent by multiple students to listservs and were not reached by the intended recipients. Later an email was received by students which told them why this was happening, a breach of “listserv guidelines.” The guideline email said that the emails students were trying to send about Palestine were “personal viewpoints” and accused certain “individuals or groups.”

Well, certain “individuals or groups” are committing genocide and trying to wipe a demographic off the face of the earth, so speaking up about Palestine and providing resources to help and learn is warranted.

As if that wasn’t enough, flyers that students have the right to post in public spaces were repeatedly taken down last semester. Each time a set of Pro-Palestine flyers was distributed, they were taken down within the week. 

An SJP member crocheted a large Palestinian flag to hang alongside an assortment of other school-endorsed propaganda (which has weeks of wear, having NOT been taken down) on the tennis fence and it was ripped from its edges less than a week later.

I can only imagine how the students and staff who have been there longer than I have must feel. Seeing the school handle the genocide happening in Palestine like this is, frankly, disgusting. 

Freedom of speech and press are first amendment rights as well as human rights. The college should not be censoring anything but blatant hate speech, something I guess they’re still working on. 

In the past semester alone, students have done more than their fair share of educating the general public about the politics of the world. It’s Whitman that needs to tighten up and take responsibility for their actions and try their best to accurately educate their students.

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