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Sean Quigley '10: Why did you come here?

As I began my first year at Brown more than three years ago, I remember receiving this exact question, having made no effort to hide the fact that, at the French Legislative Assembly, I would have sat on the right. Even to this day, when fellow conservatives and I make recommendations concerning where we see room for reform at our school, we are typically met with scorn — as well as the obligatory remark that we should have matriculated elsewhere.

The gripes range based on a given situation, but the most common tend to revolve around four central claims: we do not accept Brown's progressive consensus; we reject what is distinctively Brown; we seek only discord and bitter disagreement; and we are so prejudiced and misinformed that we have not advanced to the moral consciousness expected of a Brown student.

Essentially, we are stubborn neanderthals disguised as stupid curmudgeons. Fit for College Hill we are not.

One need only consult the reaction to the recent Columbus Day rally, jointly sponsored by the Brown College Republicans and the Brown Spectator, in order to see how reviling are our presence and our criticisms. In a letter to the editor, Geoffrey Mino '12 infers that the purpose of the rally must have been "to belittle rather than engage the community" ("Criticism of Fall Weekend stokes racial antagonism," Oct. 13). Mino then points to the President of the Brown Republicans, Keith DellaGrotta '10, as the chief Brown antagonist there.

DellaGrotta's tireless work to better the campus, from his creation of the annual Dash for Diabetes to his long-standing involvement with Brown Christian Fellowship, should demonstrate that his loyalties are always with Brown. Moreover, he does not take his three-generation Brown pedigree lightly, a pedigree that greatly motivated the emotional content of his speech.

Had Mino possessed a belief in the possibility of a loyal opposition, he might have realized that DellaGrotta cringed at the thought of losing the Brown once attended by his Italian grandfather from Federal Hill, Guerino DellaGrotta '36. For while destruction comes rather easily — as the recent Herald articles about Brown's relationship with the Providence community should reveal — preservation is painstakingly difficult. So, not prone to inaction, DellaGrotta took a stand.

But, since he was critical of Brown's decision, and sought a way to transcend the practice of waving the bloody hide of native oppression, he must have been deriding Brown. Such is the logic of a person like Mino.

Taking a cue from those who conflate criticism with disloyalty, the editorial page board characterized the crowd, among whom was yours truly, as betraying "rabidly anti-Brown sentiment" ("A day off, not a day on," Oct. 19).

I wonder whether the board would make the same claim about those members of the Brown Corporation who, in 1926, voted to increase the number of trustees by six members, and then removed all denominational considerations for those six members, as well as for the President. What of the members who, in 1942, removed all denominational requirements for all corporation members?

If anything could be called un-Brown, it should be the premeditated and deliberate upending of the very charter that birthed the University. Not to mention how much of a slap in the face of Brown's founders such a departure from more than 160 years of precedent must have been. They abandoned our school's very identity as a Baptist, Christian college.

Or let us take a more recent example, while still applying the logic that a critique, even a call for fairly substantial change, necessarily amounts to hatred. Must we conclude that the man largely behind the New Curriculum, Ira Magaziner '69 P'06 P'07 P'10, was a despiser of Brown? He, after all, sought and succeeded in shepherding a major revision to the University's academic policies. How dare he.

In the end, it appears that far too many Brown students resort to the charge that a critic must be a traitor, especially when that critic is on the right. What could end a discussion sooner than the idea that one's opponent secretly hates Brown and thus only disagrees out of a desire to encourage its failure?

One should expect more critical thinking from the Ivy League. Then again, in the minds of most progressives, discord does not and cannot arise either from conflicting principles or from genuinely differing interpretations, but rather from a lack of knowledge. "You're just misinformed," as so many opponents of the rally stated time and time again.

Clearly. It is not as though people actually could disagree in good faith, and then make their disagreements known through recommendations. That would be impossible, and uncouth to boot. Who could want to reform Brown? I mean, it is not as though it has ever been reformed before.

Wait….

 
Sean Quigley '10 puts the protest in Protestant. He can be reached at sean.b.quigley(at)gmail.com.
 




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