Sensitivity Anyone?

Nov 132005
Authors: Jake Blumberg

Maybe I was the only kid taught that if I didn't have something nice to say, I should say nothing at all, but I really wish a few other people would remember this lesson. I do not know when the world forgot what their mothers taught them, but it is time for a refresher course.

Over the past few weeks, I have been absolutely amazed by some of the insensitivity I have witnessed on our campus, behaviors typical of our society as a whole. It really has got me wondering what has made people so disconnected from those around them. Power, maybe?

Being a columnist for a few months now, I have begun to feel the power that comes with the job title. We can write about whatever we choose, and as we sit at our computers, it can be easy to become disconnected with the world we are commenting on. Yet, I don't think it is any excuse for the insensitive rampage one of my fellow columnists went on a few weeks ago, when she decided to attack those in our community with a weight problem.

Obesity is a problem for many in our nation; a problem I can assure you plagues lives every day. I, for one, can still remember the fat jokes I lived through in my younger years, and I can tell you, it is not a fun experience. At this point in our lives, I would hope we would be caring enough to realize such jokes are hurtful and immature; obviously, my colleague did not get that memo, and instead decided to make her entire column one big, insensitive fat joke.

I read a few of the responses to her column, and I could feel the pain in each letter, pain that resonated from an inner wound so deep it will never heal. Obesity is a disease, one that many try to beat everyday; no one chooses to be overweight, and having a small petite girl lecture them on how "disgusting" it is to be fat does nothing but make that battle harder and more depressing to fight. I am sure my colleague will not be pleased if she reads this, I wouldn't be happy in her place, either; yet, if I wrote something as insensitive as she did, I would deserve it.

Power cannot be the only cause for insensitivity, I am sure. Maybe it is just an utter lack of taste.

I was sitting in a class a few days ago, learning about the horrors of sexual assault. As we went through the lecture, I looked around the room, and began noticing some of the women in the classroom cringing and getting looks of absolute horror on their faces. Statistically, about one and every four women will be sexually assaulted during their lives, and the majority of those incidents take place between the ages of 12 to 24. Statistically, there were probably multiple women listening about a crime they had been victim to, a sobering thought for any male in the room-at least it should have been.

Instead, one of my fellow males decided to be "funny" and crack jokes he thought were under his breath, but instead were loud enough for at least half the room to hear. He made a few quiet remarks that were certainly off-color, but he made this column when he decided to spout off while we discussed date rape.

As our professor went into the types of drugs used to commit the atrocity, my classmate loudly said, "Where can I get some of those?" I was shocked, as was the guy's friend, who looked at him and told him to shut up. Shut up is right. There is no excuse to say something as disgusting and threatening as that, even if it was meant to be a joke. I can assure you for the victims of sexual assault, there is nothing funny about it.

No, I don't think it is power or a lack of taste that causes the insensitivity so prevalent in our society today. Instead, I have come to the conclusion that ignorance and a lack of education are to blame. If we have never been trained or taught how to be aware of others' feelings, it is hard to avoid hurting others with our actions and words.

Groups on our campus specialize in such training, groups like the Student Leadership and Civic Engagement Office (SLCE). In December, SLCE will put on another training session to raise awareness about those around us.

The Multicultural Leadership Retreat will focus on how diversity plays a role in leadership and life. If you are interested in expanding your horizons and becoming more aware of the issues at play in our diverse world, visit for more information and an application. There will also be an information session Wednesday, Nov. 30, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Art Lounge in the Lory Student Center. I encourage you to look into the retreat, because the only way to not be part of the insensitivity problem is to learn how to be part of the solution.

Jake Blumberg is a technical journalism and political science double major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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