Contextualizing bias

The momentum of the Stand With Us movement has, understandably, abated, and now it is at quiet committee meetings and occasional forums where a fraction of the original rally-goers are channeling their energies into action. The new Web site’s launching this week is a pivotal moment for the greater student body to actively re-enter and re-examine the conversation that Stand With Us began.

The site’s intended function is to gather evidence about the nature of discrimination on campus, in individuals’ own honest words. But in order for this experiment to yield results worth examining, it is essential that students actively participate, as contributors or readers, or both.

The beliefs of Stand With Us participants have been ideologically countered by those who see the movement as an overreaction to an isolated incident. Until now, these two dominant reactions to the movement have had little occasion to confront one another. Each has existed as its own monologue in its own sphere, without engaging the other in conversation.

Those who have helped form the site do not purport to know what it will yield. This open-minded attitude about its outcome is commendable, and should be employed by both camps. Those who have proudly donned a sharp skepticism of the validity of this movement will do well to take the output on this site into serious consideration.

The possibility that each side will remain in its own bubble is a concern. It is therefore imperative that those posting on the site treat it seriously, just as we hope those reading it will treat it respectfully. Exercising mindfulness when documenting experiences of prejudice will quell concerns about the proliferation of trivialities in what should be a forum for serious considerations.

Stand With Us sparked an attempt at concretely defining the concept of discrimination, which was essential in order for students to begin to form an effective response. The site has the capability to allow students to continue this examination. Each person who submits an experience will have examined what the definition of prejudice means to them; and an array of these personal experiences and interpretations will help the community develop an idea of how individuals perceive themselves to be affected, and by what. This site has the potential to stabilize the Stand With Us conversation by making public the evidence for the problem some of us have been living, and others have not been able to believe.