I withdrew from the AAS Presidential Race after receiving information which I did not solicit and which I did not attempt to use. If I were a good politician, I would tell you that I resigned so that I could cooperate fully with the Judiciary Council investigation — but I am not a particularly good politician. I resigned from the race because I am frustrated with the tone of our discourse and disappointed in the character of our governance.
Outside of Amherst, where real political battles are waged, we have grown accustomed to hearing personal attacks both real and manufactured. We are not surprised by the bitter rancor of political dialogue. But Amherst is not real life. Students live here, not issues or platforms. We hold ourselves to a higher standard in almost everything that we do and, as a close-knit community, we should be capable of civil conversations on issues that invite multiple perspectives. Yet, we have failed as shamefully as the worst talk-radio politics.
Last week’s scandal rocked the student body, but even when framed in its most sinister terms, it is still hardly the stuff of which political novels are made. Of course, the issue itself has been lost in the rhetoric of scandal. Conversations online attacked Romen Borsellino and others before the dust had even settled, forgetting their role in uncovering the scandal in the first place.
Students who may never have knowingly interacted with an Amherst fraternity member in their life, let alone attended an AAS meeting, have come away from this incident convinced that frats are conspiring to take over the AAS — and from there, we can only expect, the school.
Identity politics have infected even apolitical issues. We lament the evils of fraternities as if their members shared a misogynistic hive mind. We debate the merits of people who drink and people who stage battles with Nerf Guns as if these two groups were mutually exclusive. We argue with fervor over the allocation of Spring Concert funds as if the AAS had auctioned off Frost in exchange for a private Ludacris concert.
This is the sort of ridiculous rhetoric we collectively mock when it comes from Tea Party zealots. But when we hear it in Keefe, we shrug and accept it as fact. Are we really as fragmented a community as our conversation suggests? Do we, in fact, dislike and distrust each other this much?
I hope not. I believe that this common distrust is the real scandal, and I believe it to be an exaggerated one. I have been privileged to know students from every corner of campus — from feminist frat bros to die-hard football fans in Marsh, and I can promise you this: not one is your enemy. Our only enemy is uninformed and unfair discourse. We do not confront that enemy by making anonymous insinuations on comment threads.
Instead, we confront it by doing what every candidate asked us to do: we get involved. We participate in conversations with our friends and with our senators about what a better Amherst would look like. We go to AAS Town Halls and maybe even Senate meetings. We do this because we have to hope, with desperate urgency, that when we openly communicate with one another, we can do more than bicker and gossip — we can achieve our common goal: a better Amherst.
Dylan Herts ’13 contributed to the writing of this article.