In the Winter 2013 edition of Emory Magazine, Emory University President James W. Wagner used the Three-Fifths Compromise as an example of admirable compromise in the framing of the Constitution to justify the University’s decision to eliminate several academic programs. In the weeks that followed, Wagner’s comments sparked campus-wide controversy regarding the racial connotations and the overall racial atmosphere at Emory. Students and faculty responded in writing and in person, voicing opinions ranging from a defense of Wagner’s comments to calls for his resignation. We at the Wheel would like to applaud the respectful and professional manner by which the Emory community has conducted itself.
On Wednesday, the NAACP and Change @ Emory hosted the Rally Against Racism in Asbury Circle. Last week, protesters gathered at the opening of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s exhibit in Robert W. Woodruff Library. The Rally Against Racism featured a number of speakers, while protestors at the exhibit protested silently with signs. In both instances, we feel that these protests were well-organized and conducted appropriately.
Those at the rally succeeded in having a productive, critical discussion of problems at Emory regarding race and minorities. In years past there has been a tendency for large events to foster more riotous, less solution-based movements. Furthermore, we feel that the protest at the SCLC exhibit upheld the spirit of the exhibit itself: silent and peaceful.
We at the Wheel see these two protests as instructive models for the future. We believe that a rally’s effectiveness is based both in attendance and in discourse. That which can be shouted is not necessarily constructive and that which is constructive does not have to be shouted. When those at rallies strike that delicate balance, we believe that they only increase their own credibility and respect.
Furthermore, we congratulate those who have spoken out against issues of race and equality in the recent weeks and sparking what has become a well-reasoned debate around campus. Given the sensitivity of these topics, it is vital that we keep discourse critical and poignant but also respectful. We hope that this trend will continue.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel‘s editorial board.