Students Demonstrated Insensitivity To the Problems of Urban Areas

by Christopher Nybo | 11/9/98 6:00am

To the Editor:

We would like to thank Nicole Vanatko for articulately expressing the problems with holding a "ghetto party" ["What is a Ghetto Party, Anyway?," Nov. 3, The Dartmouth]. Vanatko calls attention to the ignorance and insensitivity associated with such an event that mocks people and communities of low economic status. Unfortunately, however, just a few inches below Vanatko's column was a comic strip mocking the serious problems that plague American cities -- poverty, drugs, crime and inadequate housing. Using the word "projects" as a substitute word for public housing is offensive and demeaning. Although some may argue that comics should never be taken seriously, we believe that serious issues should never be trivialized in inappropriate forums such as comics.

Hanover's location far away from the problems of urban America may excuse us from fully understanding the nature of its problems, but it never excuses us from the responsibility to be respectful and sensitive to its residents, to its communities and to the members of our own community who come from such an environment.

Although their intentions were probably not deliberate, those responsible for the party and the comic did offend people, mock serious social problems and help perpetuate social and racial stereotypes. We must remember that an offense to one faction of the greater Dartmouth Community hurts and weakens the Dartmouth Community as a whole. These events illustrate how far Dartmouth needs to move to reach an acceptable level of understanding and respect for socioeconomic, racial and community diversity.