Ever since the red diversity arches began popping up on campus, they have gotten a bad wrap. Much of this criticism has been unfair. In fact, I am a diversity arch success story.
In the pre-diversity arch world, my door was bolted shut, my heart was impenetrably closed and my mind was guarded by a pack of wild wolves. My days were filled with sorrow and simplemindedness. I walked the campus a loner, shut off from the world, shut off from myself.
Then one day - one glorious day - a couple of weeks ago as I meandered across campus in my perpetually solemn state, I saw what appeared to be a red arch. And then another. And another. And, by golly, another. Before I knew it they were all over. Their message was simple but profound. They implored me to open my heart, open my door, and open my mind. The message hit me like a sack of Cornell Plantation apples. And it changed my life.
No more was I closed off from the world. No more was I a loner. So what if by opening my door my house was robbed? What do possessions matter anyway? Nothing compared to what I discovered, what the red diversity arches helped me discover.
Some may see my story as an aberration, a fluke. But it is not. I am not the only success story. There are many of us on this campus. We may not be as vocal as the diversity arch detractors, but believe me we are just as steadfast in our support for them as they are in their opposition. How could we not be? The red diversity arches have transformed more lives than even Dr. Phil. Such stories litter the campus.
Hatey McHatemonger '07 was a self-described close-minded-racist-anti-Semitic homophobe. He at first laughed at the arches like the other anti-arch detractors. To prove the worthlessness of the arches to his undecided friends, he strolled through one of them stationed in front of Day Hall on a sunny Sunday afternoon. His intent was to show that the arches had no effect, that they were eyesores spurred by a politically correct culture. Needless to say, as he walked through the glistening red diversity arch in front of Day Hall his world was transformed. Hatey McHatemonger is no longer a close-minded-racist-anti-Semitic homophobe. How could he be after that metamorphic experience? Yes, no longer is Hatey a homophobe. Today, Hatey McHatemonger is just a close-minded-racist anti-Semite. Job well done arches!
This is just one of many stories. I have heard through other people that some members of the Ku Klux Klan have walked through the arches and repented for their ways. Other students tell tales of people weeping on the other side of the arches for their past indiscretions, pledging their life to creating a diverse world. Since the red diversity arches appeared, Cornell has entered a new golden age. Or should I say, a great revival is taking place on campus.
It is mind-boggling to me that anyone could possibly be opposed to the arches, but perhaps my past close-mindedness is getting the best of me. I am told that Cornell's administration actually had to actively seek out a student to write a letter to the editor in favor of the arches. In fact, rumor has it that one prominent Cornell senior actually turned them down before they found a willing soul to do the job. (And they didn't even have to pay him, like they did me.)
But who could possibly be against the gleaming red diversity arches? Certainly no one who has felt their transformative power, who as experienced their comforting glow, who has been enraptured by their warm embrace. Yet, in this very paper they have, with few exceptions, been constantly lampooned and ridiculed. Simply astonishing.
I don't think it is an overstatement to say that the creator of the Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds slogan deserves some sort of prize. The Nobel? The Congressional Medal of Honor? A statue in front of Day Hall celebrating his/her life and works? Perhaps all of these.
Five years after he (or she) achieved what will surely go down as one of the greatest intellectual feats of the 21st century, the red arches stand in commemoration to the idea, and by extension, the man. Or woman (How close-minded would it be if I had just said man). To the creator I simply say: Thank you, sir (ma'am). Thank you. For changing my life and so many others on this campus. You have created Cornell's new anthem and now built mini Arch de Triumphs at great expense all over campus to celebrate yourself and your idea. Well worth it. Well worth it indeed.
While putting up the red diversity arches ranks as Cornell's single greatest contribution to its students and to humanity in general, the destruction of the arches is quite troubling. As the arches begin to come down, will I revert to my old solitary ways? Will Hatey McHatemonger transform back into a close-minded-racist-anti-Semitic homophobe from his current state as just a close-minded-racist anti-Semite? The mere thought of what could happen to the revival that is taking place across campus when the arches come down scares the bejesus out of me. What type of anti-diversity hellish anarchy will ensue?
If we are not reminded to open our hearts, doors and minds, how will we remember who we are as a people? For the sake of our community, for the sake of Cornell, for the sake of diversity on this campus and around the world, keep those beautiful monuments up. Spare no expense, spend whatever is necessary.
Mr. General-Secretary Rawlings, Don't Tear Town Those Arches!
Jamie Weinstein is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Time Out appears Fridays.
Archived article by Jamie Weinstein