Kent State must learn from tragedies

Marchaè Grair

When someone says Kent State, many characteristics come to my mind. The campus is very diverse, people are generally open-minded and many of the programs here are nationally recognized.

Unfortunately, assault cases are re-shaping the mold of this quiet campus and town.

Lately, the Kent community has an ominous cloud of violence lingering over its boundaries.

Kent State grad student John White died Sunday from injuries sustained during a fight outside of the Kent bars after the bars had closed. White had been in the hospital since Jan. 23, the time of the assault.

White’s attack seems all too familiar for the Kent State community. Another Kent State student, Christopher Kernich, died last year from injuries he received after he was assaulted Nov. 15 in another late-night confrontation.

It is difficult to grasp the magnitude of these assaults as a member of the Kent State community. The “tree city” is known for extremely low crime rates. As a 5-foot-3-inch female, I’ve taken many walks around campus or around downtown by myself.

Many want to blame outsiders for bringing violence to an otherwise calm place. All of the accused in both the Kernich assault and White assault were Akron residents.

I think we all need to take a moment of reflection before we point the finger too far.

While I don’t condone the assaults of both Kernich and White, I think the assailants are not synonymous with a type of evil that could not exist in Kent students or residents.

I have seen so many confrontations about a spilled drink or bad look get out of hand. I’ve seen plenty of Kent students and residents throw punches when they should have walked away. I’ve seen friends harassed or cat-called with hurtful words that no one deserves.

It is time that all of us learn from the violence that we suddenly cannot ignore.

Think twice before you have that last drink that sends you into a world you can’t remember. Re-evaluate the words you say that could severely hurt someone. Don’t try to prove how tough you are by getting in someone’s face.

There is a slippery slope between drunken bickering and outright violence. Getting blackout wasted may work well for you now, but you never know when you will do something you can never take back.

White and Kernich lost their lives, but the lives of those accused in their deaths will never be the same again. They have to look their loved ones in the eye knowing that a night of recklessness went too far. Their loved ones have to deal with the anger, guilt and sadness of someone’s bad decisions.

Hopefully, we can all do our parts to make Kent and Kent State the safe haven they once were. Those who suffer because of these recent assaults should not do so in vain.

Marchaè Grair is a senior electronic media management major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].