Response to “Do Your Pants Hang Low?”

Submitted by Tiffany Carter, second year graduate student

Dear Editor,
Though two articles in the August 24th Oracle address the “Sagging Pants” debacle, they largely fail to offer any sort of solution. The obvious issue is that many of the people in positions of authority on campus are oblivious to the needs of the student body. Students on campus do not need another set of rules and regulations. Students need models—models who are visible and approachable. Henderson State University may have avoided the snafu if the faculty and administration exhibited the behavior they expect.
Instead of blaming students for being unaware that their actions may be considered offensive, it would be more effective for faculty and staff to be living examples. It is no secret that many students feel unwelcome and undervalued on campus. This has largely to do with the institutional culture. The intentions of the “The School with a Heart” may be an effort to appeal to all, but the implementation is severely flawed. Yes, professors, deans, the provost, and other administrators have difficult jobs to do. Part of that job is to help students succeed here at Henderson.
Instead of hiding behind desks and half-closed doors, the title-holders on campus should consider exemplifying the change they want to see. One of the best ways to do this is to interact with students. Similar to President Jones’ precedence of being accessible, the university’s other authority figures should strive to communicate with students. For example, some students hang out on the quad. A faculty member who stops and strikes up a conversation not only establishes credibility, but also makes the student feel like a valued member of the campus community. Perhaps faculty and staff should be obligated to attend campus social events in order to become familiar with students. Indeed, faculty and staff should actively model professional, courteous, and humane behavior.
Part of courteous and humane behavior, of course, is participating in community discussions to determine the things that need to be changed and the actions to be taken. The recent post hoc debate has largely been about the signs’ racist implications. Certainly this merits discussion, but it is more important to address the institutional culture which made the discussion necessary. I fail to understand how dictatorial signs strategically placed in areas where people of color hang out model the values that the signs are meant to instill. Certainly, a decision made in the privacy of an administrative office can hardly be considered a courteous or inclusive solution. Those who approved the sign may have avoided ignominy if instead they had recognized their moral obligation to promote students’ agency through acculturation.
Tiffany Carter
Second Year Graduate Student