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Responding to hate: The aftermath of Paul Queally’s remarks

Published: February 27, 2014, 1:39 am ET
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Graphic By Andy Miller
Opinions Editor

For the past week, the University of Richmond community has dealt with the comments of Paul Queally. I won’t bother to repeat them again here, and I encourage those reading this who don’t know what I’m talking about to read the enlightening article published last week by author Kevin Roose in New York Magazine, or check out his newly released book “Young Money.”

The pages of this week’s Opinions section reflect students and faculty grappling with the hateful remarks made by a member of our board of trustees, especially since his name is affixed to one building on this campus, and will soon be on our admissions building.

On Tuesday night, the University of Richmond’s office of diversity and inclusion, known as Common Ground, sponsored a forum for “dialogue and healing.” I was there, along with many other members of this campus community. While the ground rules of the forum oblige me to respect the expectation of anonymity at that event, I will say that what was said there was moving.

Several attendees shared raw, personal stories of how they’ve been made to feel excluded, hated and unwanted at this school or in this city. But there were also many ideas shared for how we, as Spiders, can make a better community here. Another of the forum’s ground rules was that the conversation must continue about these problems, and I hope we can all do our part to follow this rule.

Principle II of the Richmond Promise says “The University of Richmond will be a diverse and inclusive community.” This cannot be mandated from the top; it must come from us. Paul Queally may sit on the highest governing body of this institution, but that doesn’t mean his remarks and feelings can change the amazing work happening on this campus, whether through organized initiatives such as Common Ground, or through the work of individual students, faculty and staff.

I am a white, straight, cisgender male of a Judeo-Christian background, so on the surface, I appear very similar to Paul Queally. But Paul Queally attended University of Richmond three decades ago; I attend University of Richmond now.

In the 30 years since Queally was here, this college has made remarkable progress in inclusivity, but the work is far from done. We cannot change what was said, or likely the mind of who said it. But we can use the pain of this event as motivation to examine ourselves, and what needs to be done.

As was said much more eloquently Tuesday night, this one man’s comments do not define who we are entirely, or even partially. WE define what University of Richmond is, because each one of us, alumni, parents, students, staff and friends, does something for this school. I encourage you to read the thoughts of our contributors this week, and then share your feelings, whether in The Collegian, in class or with a friend, lover, teacher or stranger.

On an unrelated note, this will be my final issue as your Opinions editor. It’s been an amazing year, and on behalf of Gigi and me, thank you very much for reading and responding. I plan to write a proper goodbye to our tenure and the print edition of The Collegian in next week’s issue, when the talented Stephanie Manley will be taking over this section. Until then, be opinionated!

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