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viewpoint

Approach others with respect, trust

| Thursday, April 10, 2014

While I disagree with much of Mark Gianfalla’s recent column, “The campus that cries wolf,” one line especially troubles me. It is, I suggest, indicative of a deeper problem with Gianfella’s reasoning in general. Ginafalla writes: “The ‘I, Too, Am Notre Dame’ photo blog, which accuses members of the Notre Dame student body of being racist (without proof that these racist statements ever took place) is a much more polarizing project . . . ”
I call your attention to his parenthetical claim, the “without proof that these racist statements ever took place.” Ginafalla is referring, as you likely remember, to questions and statements Notre Dame students report hearing — things such as “No, where are you really from?” or “You talk white.”
I am trying to be as charitable and generous as possible, understanding Gianfalla’s intent in the best possible way. I am afraid, however, that I can construct no interpretation other than the following: Gianfalla is suggesting the Notre Dame students pictured on the Tumblr site — or, at least some of them — are either exaggerating or outright lying when they report various micro-aggressions they have witnessed or been victims of on campus.
This saddens me for several reasons.
First, I believe we have no reason not to trust the students pictured. In fact, I recognize several familiar faces on the Tumblr site, having had these students in class in recent years. I can vouch for their honesty, integrity and courage. I am confident the same is true in the other cases as well. Second, for Gianfalla to insinuate we should question the veracity of the students’ claims reveals, I believe, at least some degree of paranoia on his part, as if the students pictured somehow conspired to deceive other members of the Notre Dame community. I desperately hope that Gianfalla’s skepticism is not racially motivated. It is, at best, a cheap shot.

Patrick Clauss
director
First Year Writing and Rhetoric

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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