Asking the hard questions

Why do so few people do it? I have been in countless classes when a professor said something offensive or controversial, and no one spoke up, myself included. Are we that concerned with what our peers or authority figures think of us?

The other day I read an article in Cox Today on our generation, so-called “Millenials,” which quoted a Cox staff member saying that professors have to prod us into speaking up in class, or when they are trying to initiate discussion. Apparently we’re more group-oriented and consensus-seeking than previous generations of students.

This is a shame. Individualism will always trump “consensus-seeking.” It drives innovation and fresh thinking; it challenges the status quo and breaks down commonly held notions or ideas; it asks the hard questions. Sometimes it can be overzealous, as I was in my last article. Sigma Phi Epsilon was not affiliated with Men With Integrity other than a few people being involved in both, and the program no longer exists. My apologies.

There are many tough questions on campus that should be asked, and I’ll just run down a few of them. I know I will likely catch hell for some, but then again, that’s not a new experience for me. Hate me, call me whatever names you wish, but at the end of the day the only thing I care about is that maybe, just maybe, by asking some of these out in the open, I might make a difference.

Why is the Cox School of Business so notoriously tight with their alumni list? As a finance and economics major, I’d like to be able to speak with Cox alumni who work in the fields I’m interested in. I can understand not wanting to expose them to constant solicitations for jobs from students, but putting the list under lock and key seems a bit extreme. The other day I met with a BBA Career Services counselor who, when asked this question, said, “when you’re an alumnus, you’ll appreciate it.” I responded, “No, I won’t, I’ll still think it’s a disservice to the students. “Of course, when I’m an alumnus, I won’t want to be bombarded with résumé dropping and job requests from people I’ve never met, but I love teaching and tutoring and will be more than willing to talk with a student who has questions about my chosen career. Heck, if I really like them, maybe I’ll even help them find an internship. But having students go through an application process and meet with several people so they might have the opportunity to talk to an alumnus seems a bit ridiculous. Surely we can reach some understanding as to how to contact alumni and what is appropriate to discuss, and in return, we can be put in touch with some of them.

Why is Sigma Alpha Epsilon not under any sort of investigation, and for that matter, why is so much fraternity misconduct tolerated? For goodness sake, they’re nickname is “Sexual Assault Expected.” It’s the worst kept secret on campus, the proverbial elephant in the room. In the Jacob Stiles case, there might even be evidence that some of his fraternity brothers were selling drugs out of the house! Furthermore, I’ve heard the most incredible stories about hazing first-hand from guys who went through it, at many different houses. The university must know about these incidents, and I’m absolutely dumbfounded as to why it continues. Perhaps it’s because there are influential people on the Board of Trustees who are protecting these fraternities. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. The good old boys network can smooth over a lot of rough patches, and money helps. A national consultant on Greek life has been brought to campus to evaluate these issues and more. That’s good news, and hopefully they can come up with suggestions for a vibrant, outgoing and safe Greek community on campus.

Why are there “Special Interest Seats” in Student Senate? I speak of the African-American Senator, Asian-American Senator, Hispanic-American Senator and International Senator. Why do ethnic minorities get special representation? And why these specific ethnic minorities? I’m not a racist, but if you’re going to give extra voices to certain ethnic groups, why not all of them? Who defines what composes an ethnic group? According to the Senate documents, the seats are drawn from what the school Registrar recognizes as ethnic minorities. Why does the Registrar define what is and isn’t a minority? It’s completely arbitrary. Students are represented by their major in the Senate. Why should certain people get extra representation while others don’t?

I realize I’ll get hate mail for this; I always do. That just means I’m doing my job. Please, ask the tough questions, stand up and don’t be afraid to make a difference, whether it’s in the classroom, at work, on campus or even just among your friends. Stand up for what you believe in and think is right.

John Jose is a junior finance and economics double major. He can be reached for comment at jjose@smu.edu.

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