LTE: All Hail The Critic

At the end of last year, Nate Fisher wrote a derisive column for the Opinions section of The Heights about the Arts Fest and BC administration titled “Every Man For Himself And BC Against All.” In his column, Nate chastised all students involved in UGBC, SPO, SOFC, NOTH, and Arts Fest for being mindless followers to the “Vice Whatever of Somethingorother.” Nate invited a response from the administration, saying, “I genuinely hope to be proven wrong, to be shown one solitary thing they do that helps organizations rather than hinders them,” yet when Sarah McDermott, the Arts Fest Director, published a response to his column in the comments section of The Heights’ website and sent him a direct email inviting him to “set up a meeting to discuss and actually make some change” she received no response.

I do not want this to be a personal attack on Nate, but want to put his diatribes on display as an example to every critic who is quick to disparage, condemn, satirize, or “expose” a system, but slow or unwilling to provide practical solutions. The only “solution” Nate provides is for everyone in the aforementioned student groups to quit, consolidate their “meager power,” and “throw some serious bricks.” I believe everyone should be held responsible for what they say, especially when in a public forum and when part of a community that claims to be centered on shared learning and the pursuit of knowledge. It is not the criticism I want to call into question, but rather the way Nate goes about it.

It is unacceptable to equate Arts Fest—an event that hundreds of students spend months planning and organizing—to a “strip club.” It is unnecessarily harsh to disparage the dining employees that serve us every day as “emotionally numb from years as cogs in a self-purposive machine.” These are the types of shamefully inconsiderate statements for which critics ought to be held responsible. I want to be clear that I do not want columns censored in any way. I welcome columns and opinions that are just as sharp-tongued—even as harsh as Nate’s—if they are well-informed and direct their righteous fury towards a specific problem and not some nameless, faceless tyrant that no one can identify. I believe there are things at BC that need to be discussed and changed. In fact, I know a number of people, who have found problems in “the system” and have then done their best to meet with administrators, rally student support, and advocate for the change they want to see implemented.

In last semester’s column “Every Man For Himself and BC Against All,” Nate rages against the red tape created by administration, which impeded him from taping his comedy club’s video. This semester, he claims the meatball stand epitomizes “the University’s caricaturesque out-of-touch-ness,” but if the biggest problems that he can find and confront are the administration’s poor choice of vendor for a food stand and the annoyingly strict enforcement of a poorly supported rule about filming on campus, perhaps it’s not the administration that’s out of touch.

The student body has been accused of being “directed and coerced toward a catatonic state where questions are a thing of the past.” This is an insult to BC faculty, staff, and administrators I respect, and an offense to every BC student who considers him or herself an independent thinker pursuing a worthwhile education at a prestigious university. I think that our community is at far greater risk of falling into a state of “narcissistic sustenance [on] total sameness and homogeneity” from allowing aimless, inconsiderate criticism to go unanswered than we are for bending to some minor bureaucratic inconveniences. I think that instead of taking Nate’s suggestion to “throw some serious bricks” we ought to take our complaints, our frustration, our anger, and use it to build something new.

I invite Nate or anyone else who sees BC as a cannibalistic machine that wants to “silence independent voices” to respond with serious, pointed concerns and a plausible course for resolving them.
Ben Miyamoto
A&S ’15

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The Heights is the independent student newspaper of Boston College.