posted Oct 31, 2010 5:58 PM by Sunhay You

If you haven’t seen these plastered all around campus, here they are. And here’s my two cents on the entire issue:

I’m sure many people find nothing wrong with these letters and rather find them funny. However, just because that is the case, doesn’t mean it should be tolerated. That is essentially the worst thing we can do: passively accept the status quo and believe that it has little impact on the lives of others, including our own.

In turning a blind-eye we become enablers of such behaviors exhibited in these letters at the cost of the under-privileged: those who have safe places to speak out and be represented relative to other groups in our Duke community. How infuriating that those offended and objectified by such frat mails lacked the support and space to voice their objections.

The main problem is neither with those who make these hurtful remarks nor those who lack the power to respond to them, but with those in the middle who are privileged enough to respond but choose not to. The only reason why such behaviors continue is because we accept them and don’t take the small amount of energy and effort to challenge them.

What people easily forget is how we have all the means to change the culture around us, and that it starts with single acts and small changes in individual persons. Individuals make up these cultures that influence our behaviors. And simple individual acts such as refraining from using “gay” to mean “stupid” directly impact those around us. We can only change our culture by changing our behaviors, which is why we need to hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions. These emails and flyers highlight our need for a more constructive environment where we feel safe questioning each other’s behaviors.

An apology is just not enough (although it is a starting point), which is why we need to hold these frats accountable for any future e-mails they may send to make sure that any apology they give translates to a change in behavior.

Let this be a call upon every Duke student to be a more accountable and responsible citizen of our campus, to use his/her influence and agency to provide a space for and listen to those who have been overlooked for so long.