Editorial: Go public, or don’t go at all

If something bad happens on campus, and Northeastern doesn’t discuss what occurred, did it really happen in the first place?

The question is obviously illogical, but then again; so are many things, such as the way Northeastern University handled the “recent, distressing” incident on campus.

In a letter on myNEU, president Joseph Aoun told the community about an incident motivated by racial or religious (it wasn’t clear which), but he left one detail out – what the incident was.

In the letter, Aoun condemned acts of racism and religious intolerance on campus – a noble and necessary proclamation. But the letter was also vague, referring to a “recent, distressing incident that occurred on our campus.”

Well, what was the incident?

Your guess is as good as ours. All The News was able to report as of press time was that it’s “under investigation.”

The university’s approach, whatever the incident may be, has its pros and cons. First, the letter brings to light a tough subject to swallow – racism does exist in the Northeastern community. It discussed the need to embrace diversity and highlighted future efforts to rid Northeastern of intolerance.

But the catalyst of the letter – the event itself – remains shrouded in secrecy. By not divulging details of the occurrence itself, the university is only fostering speculation and furor among the student body, rather than promoting discussion about diversity. The university, and its students, will never progress toward tolerance on a diverse campus if they are not confronted with the true horrors of intolerance.

Most importantly, the message that Aoun is so valiantly attempting to communicate gets lost in the muddle of speculation.

We realize this incident is not an abstract concept. It happened to someone, and it was damaging to them on some level. But if this silence is to protect that person, then perhaps it shouldn’t have been released at all. As many learned in high school, rumors can sting even more than actions.

The events addressing the problem of intolerance over the next two weeks will likely be fruitful, but to achieve the successful diversity dialogue Aoun wants for this campus, he should be open to discussing all the ways in which intolerance rears its ugly head.

As of press time, there is a gaping hole in that discussion.

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