Staff Editorial: Valid race arguments need real debate

At this point, it is entirely clear that the uproar that has emerged over the Halloween costume incident is among the most divisive and troubling that the Geneseo campus has recently encountered. Heated discussions have emerged in classrooms, residence halls and in a comment war on our Web site,

Arguments on both sides of the issue are equally valid. Did the students who dressed in blackface exercise good judgment? Of course not. They admitted to this in a Tuesday letter to Rochester's WHEC, apologizing for the incident. But the arguments that trying to emulate a pop-culture figure is not a racist action, and, alternatively, that painting oneself black holds an important historical and racist connotation, both hold a significant amount of merit.

While we at The Lamron generally consider the efforts of groups like FARI to be admirable, we also acknowledge that a very significant portion of the student population does not agree with some or all of FARI's approaches or methods, as seen with the flyers for the group SAFARI. Are the students who hold a view opposed to FARI's necessarily racist or opposed to a diverse campus? Absolutely not, and their arguments are undoubtedly worthy of consideration when addressing the larger issues of diversity and race at Geneseo.

Thus, the appropriate approach to the issue dictates that the reasonable arguments on both sides be moved outside of the realm of anonymous flyers and response protests on the Green, and into the realm of constructive debate that will allow for both sides to consider the respective arguments in a measured, careful fashion.

It is for this reason that we strongly support the administration's decision to hold a dialogue on the topic tomorrow, Nov. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Newton 202, and encourage all community members with an interest in this issue to attend.

There are obviously no easy answers to the question of race, diversity and appropriate behavior when it comes to representation of races. It would na've to believe that such an event, in and of itself, can mend the fractures that the events of the past few weeks have created. But at least, we hope that it will begin to allow the feelings on both sides the issue to be fleshed out, and hopefully, set our campus down the path of reconciliation.

Due to the ongoing nature of this issue, and the undoubtedly long-term repercussions of the blackface incidents, we also maintain that holding this event does not absolve the administration of continued responsibility for facilitating discussion regarding diversity on the Geneseo campus. Student turnover, and the addition each year of new community members, dictates that this is a discussion that absolutely must be encouraged on a consistent, regular basis.