Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m always hooked on a particular TV show. Currently, I have a deep love for the show Parks & Recreation which follows a group of well-meaning, small town government employees. The show has evolved a lot over the years, and with its final season underway I feel more connected to it than ever.
Last week’s episode struck a chord with me, particularly in reflection to events happening at The Miami Student. I’ll provide a brief summary, but I encourage you to watch the whole episode — if not to understand my column, at least to enjoy a lot of laughs.
Ben Wyatt has begun his campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives, aided by his wife Leslie Knope. However, the two come under fire when Leslie declines to enter the “Pie-Mary,” an antiquated and sexist pie making contest for political candidates’ wives. When Ben enters the contest in her place, hoping to calm the angry crowd, they receive more backlash. Inevitably, their campaign advisor informs them to simply put on their most boring outfits and offer a public apology to satisfy the media.
Of course, the ever-fiery and opinionated Leslie objects to apologizing, having done nothing wrong. The episode concludes with them offering a passionate and heart-felt speech about living life the way you want, only to receive half-clapping and half-booing from the crowd.
Last week, The Miami Student received this same 50/50 reaction when we published a staff editorial exploring the possibility of a campus without Greek life. In our minds, this non-Greek campus would have the potential to be more inclusive and possibly have less division amongst students.
Some of our readers were furious that we would speak ill of a community involving nearly one third of our student body, not to mention numerous alumni. Many acted as if we were carrying torches to the fraternity houses, ready to burn the Greek system to the ground.
Others responded more positively, understanding that we were simply contemplating whether or not campus would be better off without Greek life. After all, we aren’t unaware of all the wonderful things Greek life provides for students and the campus.
Last year, the angry Facebook comments, tweets and letters to the editor might have bothered me. Like Leslie Knope, I strive to make everything around me perfect and I want to make people happier.
However, in this metaphorical Pie-Mary, I wasn’t trying to make people happy. Just as we hold our political candidates to an impossibly high standard by various critics, sometimes the newspaper is caught in a crossfire of opinions.
If we never commented on the negative aspects of Greek life, we would undoubtedly receive criticism for being too soft or for ignoring a somewhat problematic institution. When we do offer opinions about it, we are suddenly painted as an anti-Greek group of bitter, GDI students.
Although I’m pleased with the conversation our editorial began amongst alumni, students and other student publications such as The Odyssey, I’m here to say that I’m not very concerned as to whether or not our paper fails or exceeds expectations of what others think it should be.
Some readers might like an apology for having offended them and their affiliation with Greek life, but I won’t be offering one. Our editorial wasn’t perfect, by any means, but it did fulfill its intention of sparking debate in our community. This was the only editorial I actually had people asking me about— there were students caring enough to read the newspaper.
Maybe your opinion wasn’t the same as ours, that’s okay— we’ll never all agree on something (except maybe that Miami needs more snow days).
Like Leslie and Ben, I’ve succeeded in angering about half of you with the help of my fellow editors. But that means half of you approve, so I’ll choose to focus on that. After all, you can’t please everyone.