Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Window washing

Over the years, residents of Boston University’s iconic Warren Towers have found interesting ways to express themselves. Whether it be group statements spanning entire floors or individual assertions, Warren’s windowpanes often make a better easel than any billboard.
But the personal expression doesn’t stop there. All BU dorms, large and small, can become veritable canvases for self-expression. With such a diverse student body, it is inevitable that one student’s expression is another’s source of offense. It’s up to the Office of Residence Life to hear out complaints and use proper judgement to resolve individual issues.
When issues arise, the ORL in the particular dorm or apartment building is responsible for taking action. If a complaint is made concerning a student’s in-window decoration ‘-‘- typically a poster, banner or statement ‘-‘- the ORL representatives alert the student to the concern, discuss the problem and then make a judgment on whether or not to take down the offending article. It shouldn’t be any other way.
By exercising this passive approach to dealing with student expression, the ORL is acting wisely on a very volatile subject. The office must never actively monitor and take down articles it finds ‘offensive’ without prior peer complaint. College is about expression, after all, and students should be afforded every opportunity to express themselves honestly and fairly.
But students must also be mindful of what they are displaying. Signs that ask women to show their chests are certainly going to offend some people. Students must use tact when choosing to make statements that the whole world can see.
If students have a real intellectual point to make, they should not be afraid to push the envelope, but they should also be willing to comply when they are told that their statement goes too far. If someone requests that something be taken down, the person who hung the item must’ be understanding and think of a way to support their cause in a less public way, at least in the dorms. But until complaints are received, by all means make the statement.’
Be creative, BU. Dorm culture is important, and the more varied, the better. The ORL is minding the thin line between free expression and bad taste, as well it should. Keep the student areas of BU a lively, interesting, creative place, but always be considerate of others.

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