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When bad things happen

(09/03/18 4:00am)

With the semester only days underway, we’ve already seen some of the worst of our nature in and around our campus—racial epithets, skirmishes around Silent Sam and likely dozens of other incidents that never rose to the attention of public scrutiny—often without any clear offender to blame. Our reaction in such situations is usually to double down on the need to hold offenders accountable by making more policies, rules and laws that carry with them a swift and sure punishment. But such crime-and-punishment approaches often do little to prevent reoccurrences or repair the pain and harm left in the wake of the offender’s actions—the harm that festers and compromises what should be a supportive learning environment for everyone. And when no offender can be pinpointed, we too easily shrug off the obligation to answer hard questions, as if there is nothing we can do beyond denouncements that provide no path to change.