Commission of Cynicism

Jackie Mantey

Lil’ Bush: “How many Democrats does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Lil’ Kerry: “Well, first we’d form a committee to discuss why the lightbulb needs replacing.”

And so goes a very appropriate joke courtesy of the surprisingly funny television show “Lil’ Bush.” Although I dutifully sign my voter registration forms as a member of the blue party, you have to admit, Democrats do a lot of talking and not enough acting.

Such as a committee to discuss why a lightbulb needs changing. Yes, Comedy Central’s got jokes.

This joke, however, regarding the redundant talking of political leaders becomes a little too real when reading the Stater’s front page story on Thursday, “Lefton announces plan for boosting campus tolerance.”

The idea, in theory, sounds great, right? I’m certainly one jumping on the tolerance train, but as you read on, just replace the cartoon version of John Kerry with lifesize President Lester Lefton. Replace a Lightbulb Committee with Kent State’s new Commission on Inclusion.

“When people step foot in an elevator at Kent State, President Lester Lefton said he hopes they greet each other with a smile — whether or not they come from different backgrounds or hold different beliefs.”

The “committee of about 25 members and several work groups with an unlimited number of participants” will target “specific areas of inclusiveness.” Lefton is hoping (and rightfully so) that this presidential commission will go beyond “the diversity plan created last year by acting as an umbrella over the entire diversity initiative” by submitting recommendations to him about the best ways to make the university more inclusive.

Once again, nice idea in theory, but do we really need a 25-member board to make decisions about inclusion? Forming the commission and getting it on its feet will just postpone inclusion actions that can start sooner; actions that we already know are needed.

If inclusion is such a priority, why is it taking so long to get a new Women’s Resource Center Director? Why are student groups struggling to find the funds to bring diverse lecturers and speakers that could open minds and (duh!) promote diversity?

Furthermore, the commission is being chaired by the Rev. Ronald Fowler, senior pastor of the Arlington Church of God in Akron and a 1959 Kent State graduate. Why? “‘I think it’s important we have a voice that isn’t mired in our day-to-day activities,’ Lefton said.”

I trust Fowler would be a strong member of the commission, but if we want someone who faces the un-inclusive side of our university on a daily basis, why not pick someone who deals with unsmiling faces getting off the elevator on a daily basis?

The cynical side of me just sees it falling by the wayside as another group of talking heads discussing how the Kent State community is intolerant. I’d back the Commission on Inclusion more if it didn’t sound like nice rhetoric and Board of Trustees political theater. Talking is good, but action is better.

Come on Kent State. Let’s turn on our lightbulbs.

Jackie Mantey is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].