Building community

I just sent the following letter to Phi Gamma Delta, the OSU Coordinator of Greek Life, and the OSU Dean of Student Life:

Hi Guys,

I am an alum of OSU (Ed.M. in 2006) and a full-time OSU staff member in HHS.

I’ve been following the news coverage of the noose that was hanging in your yard. Recently, I read the public statement that ran in the Barometer. The online version of the paper called it a “statement,” but did not include the term “apology” like the print version. I really respect that you put out a statement as it takes courage to acknowledge something in a public forum, but I have a question regarding the wording and meaning of the statement.

My question is, was the statement intended to be an apology? If not, then I feel that it would have been nice to see an apology that recognized the effect or impact that a hanging noose can have on people from communities that have historically been targeted for violence due to their race.

If the statement was intended to be an apology, then I feel that it was not an actual apology. The statement did not include phrasing that said that anyone was sorry or apologetic. The statement basically says that you recognize that people were offended and that you never intended any harm. An ethicist and faculty member at OSU recently told me that if intent were needed to cause harm then drunk drivers would never get prosecuted.

I know that you guys did not intend to harm anyone. I feel that your intent was never to do anything malicious. I also recognize and applaud your philanthropic efforts.

The fact remains that people were very upset when they saw the noose. I feel that those feelings are extremely valid. Nooses have a lot of negative historical symbolism and, regardless of intent, they can have an impact.

I would love to talk with anyone who gets this email about why I feel that a legitimate apology is necessary to help heal those who have been affected by the impact of an offensive symbol. Saying you’re sorry is not an easy thing to do. It requires vulnerability and, hopefully, empathy.

Please feel free to contact me via email at **********. I am sending this email as a concerned OSU community member.

Eric Stoller