November 23, 2015

Forensics statement of solidarity

The Lewis & Clark forensics team unequivocally condemns threats made against Black students in the LC community.

The forensics team of Lewis & Clark College represents a co-curricular program of the College designed to promote public discourse. While much of our effort is designed to enhance student voices in competitive settings, one component of our vision is to promote a healthy, vibrant discussion of issues important to our campus and community.

While our members will always defend and encourage healthy discourse, and while we believe that free speech is invaluable in the promotion of non-violent resolution to problems, we unequivocally condemn threats made against Black students in the LC community. Such threats are violence in and of themselves and do not qualify for or deserve the protection of free speech provisions of local, state, or federal law. We recognize the structural link between violent rhetoric and physical violence.

We are heartened by the response of many students to use non-violent discourse as a means of educating and challenging our community to confront structural racism on our campus, but we also recognize that it is a first step that must be maintained by further discussion, activism and action. Such dialogue will be uncomfortable as we acknowledge our complicity in the structural racism of the academy, but it is necessary to creating safety in our educational space. The forensics team plans to have a part in facilitating those discussions in partnership with a variety of groups on campus.

While Socrates said that the “unexamined life is not worth living”, Malcolm X added an important reminder that the “examined life is painful.” While we hope for peace and safety on our campus, we must not forget that peace and safety cannot occur without voices calling for and demanding justice.