Response to “Saggy Pants”

Submitted By Lynley Billingsley, senior education major

Dear Ms. Skinner,
I think that it’s a bad indication for the current mindset of the HSU administration that it couldn’t pick up on the number of reasons that hanging up a list of forbidden behaviors was a very, very bad idea.  Who is to say what classifies rudeness or profanity?  Who gets to decide what an appropriate level of volume would be?  Some of us recoil when we hear the word crap like others do when the big baddy F-bomb gets casually dropped into a conversation. I may be studying or wanting some quiet time in the Garrison Center and may think another person is being too loud, but others around may not take any issue with the volume.  It’s all entirely subjective, impossible to enforce, and makes the brainchild behind the sign come across as a crotchety elder one cafeteria visit away from telling us all to get off their lawn.  The only rule on there that actually is enforceable is so terrifically inappropriate that I can’t believe someone didn’t intervene before the two signs were placed out in public where we hang out.  Not only were they culturally insensitive, but the signs clashed against concepts being taught to us as students by the very administration that found it acceptable to post them. 
I’m a senior at HSU in the Teacher’s College.  One of the main fundamentals we are taught as future educators is that students learn best when their teachers provide an environment of respect and rapport for the students and their cultures.  It’s so important for us to have this type of classroom environment that we have a required class titled Teaching People of Other Cultures.  It’s awesome, it’s informative, and I learned so much in that semester from Dr. Jenkins, not just about being culturally sensitive, but also how to make students across all demographics feel included and valued in their school.  Whoever thought of hanging the sign in the Garrison Center should enroll in a few of the classes offered from the Teacher’s College to get a better glimpse of the standards that Henderson holds for its future educators.  Commentary from the administration and teachers that is insulting to the students doesn’t exactly build a strong, supportive educational system.  It’s demoralizing.  It sparks outrage from all levels of audience, from other administrators and professors to students and parents to people not even part of the school.  Teachers are supposed to exhibit model behaviors that they want emulated from students in the classroom.  I am going to be a role model in my future career whether I want to or not, and I can make a choice to embrace my students and their quirky choices or I can resist and try to make them change who they are.     
THE SIGN, capitalized it because it has gone from being a small incident of unintended (I hope) ignorance to a really big deal, not only is a direct contrast to what future educators are being taught so our students feel inclusive, it’s a swing away from the Henderson State University strategic plan.  On the website, it states that “…Henderson, above all, is centered upon the success of the student, and to ensure that success we value academic excellence, collaboration and community, human difference, integrity, tradition and innovation, and the liberal arts education”.
Right now many of us are probably thinking that Henderson values community and human difference as long as we are wearing the right pants and a nice, sensible belt.   
Yours sincerely,
Lynley Billingsley