‘Prom Girl’ Column shouldn’t attack girl
As the former co-president of OUTLook and an avid supporter of LGBT rights, I was disappointed by John Mercer’s recent column about Constance McMillen’s fight against the Itawamba County School District. While Mercer certainly has a right to his opinion, attacking a teenage girl for having the courage to stand up against a long pattern of injustices and civil rights abuses comes off as misguided at best and willfully ignorant at worst. Not only did Mercer attempt to write off McMillen’s sexual identity as a “lifestyle decision” (which is as much of a “choice” as handedness or eye color), but he criticized her for the very reason why her actions are heroic.
McMillen refused to deny her right to express her identity in a culture in which heterosexuality is considered the default sexuality and where she knew she would be criticized by people like Mr. Mercer who have no conceptualization about how privileged heterosexuals are in this country and how frequently LGBT citizens face discrimination. This isn’t an issue of whether McMillen wanted the school’s approval. If she cared about that, she would have pretended to be straight. This is about a long history of intolerance and injustice. People like me and Constance aren’t going to take this treatment lying down anymore.
As far as the issue of whether or not the ACLU should be involved, perhaps Mercer missed the “civil liberties” part of the “American Civil Liberties Union.” The ACLU works tirelessly to defend people like McMillen and Mercer and everyone in between because they believe that our rights are more important than popular opinion. To say that their work, such as the cited lawsuit regarding police brutality “wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money every year” demonstrates a clear difference in opinion on what “waste” means. I would argue that it wastes taxpayers’ money to continue to pay government employees who disregard our constitutional rights and abuse their positions of power. And while I agree that the rest of the students in the school were unjustly punished by the cancellation of their prom, the fault clearly lies on the school board for setting unfair and illegal policy and refusing to change their antiquated, moralistic rules.
ASNMU is standing up for students
In response to the March 25 letter to the editor written by Holly Kasberger: Last week, ASNMU took a busload of students to rally in Lansing, the first statewide rally for higher education in the past several years. Speaking to hundreds of students about the importance of our funding from steps of the state capitol was one of my proudest moments as your president. Why? Because students were actually being activists, we were standing up for ourselves and our fellow students to demand that we be a priority to state legislators.
The letter to the editor in the North Wind last week was flat out inaccurate and clearly shows how out of touch the author is with the everyday actions of ASNMU. To correct the inaccuracies: the “level-headed treasurer” would have been up for impeachment due to neglect of duties if he hadn’t resigned and the ASNMU president has not formally asked for the advisor to be removed, despite numerous instances of overstepping her role as an advisor. Lastly, the impeachment charges brought up at last week’s meeting were brought up for personal reasons by those involved with his opponent’s campaign. The moral of all of this: let’s focus on real issues affecting students rather than wasting our time with dramatic nonsense.
The next year will be one of the most challenging times at NMU. We could be facing a 16.9 percent cut to state university funding, which in turn makes tuition increases very likely. I have worked with TJ Weber and Travis Crowe over the past year as president, and I assure you that they will have the courage, experience and passion to stand up for students as your next ASNMU president and vice president.