February 17, 2013

LETTER: Promoting Respectful Comradery

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To the Editor:

Re: “SEPPINNI: Free to Be Oucking Fffenssive,” Opinion, Feb. 11

After attending the Cornell-Princeton hockey game referred to by Shane Seppini, I read his column in Monday’s Sun about behavior at hockey games and cringed. He wrote it with a sophomoric condescending tone that included phrases such as, “I already exposed the idiocy of the FCC’s piddling censorship laws.”  Well now, thank you so much, Mr. College Senior for your amazing insight which you benevolently utilize to enlighten anyone who chooses to read your opinion piece.  I recycled the paper hoping that when the writer chronologically ages, his attitude and humility mature commensurately.

Then comes Tuesday’s paper with a letter to the editor entitled, “Living Up to the Campus Code of Conduct” written by a grad student, Rob Moore. Referring to the Monday opinion piece about behavior at Cornell men’s hockey games, this writer urges “the University to more thoroughly and consistently enforce Title III Article II Section A Part 3a of the Campus Code of Conduct at Lynah Rink.”

Mr. Moore wrote, “Degrading chants involving personal details aimed at the opposing team’s goalie embarrass the University, its athletic program and me, but more importantly, they are unquestionably abusive toward Cornell visitors. Our community is above using the powerful idea of free speech as a prop for just being plain mean.”

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Moore. However, I believe that trying to enforce the Campus Code of Conduct seems hopeless in this case.  Many years ago, after I took visitors to a men’s hockey game at Lynah, I learned that one of the group returned to her school and yelled at a fourth grade classmate, as she taunted her with her index finger, “HEY, YOU SUCK!” If I have hockey tickets for men’s games, I give them away if I have visitors.  As a Cornell graduate, I am ashamed.

In lieu of reaching for the Code of Conduct or pontificating about freedoms of speech, I think that unless we’re able to convince our athletic director or coach about the ramifications of these infantile taunts and how destructive they can be to our and other’s psyches, there will be no change.  If Director Noel and/or Coach Schafer wrote a piece in the Sun or made a few PA announcements during the game, I believe the “Lynah Faithful” would be responsive and could maintain the same noise level and be just as effective as they are now.  After all, who would object to the cheer, “Princeton’s in New Jersey”?

Henry Stark ’59