Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Mr. Subbaswamy, don’t tear down this fence

By Morning Wood Staff

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#LoveTheWall #SaveTheWall #ItsPretty

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By Cook Fortune

I walked out of a meeting in the new ILC last week to see a banner on the beautiful fence that now separates Hasbrouck and the Campus Center. I look at this fence every day and think of one of the great poets whose work I teach to undergraduates every semester. This fence and the boundary it creates are what make our campus great. In fact, I think we’ve been too slow in creating even more boundaries across the University of Massachusetts.

We can see now that our University is different from that of years past. No more is an era when students constantly protested for equal rights and fair treatment by the University. No more is an era when students felt safe enough to go on strike when workers were treated unfairly or student fees were raised without input. No more is an era when students degraded daily because of the color of their skin had the power to occupy a building to demand equality. No more is an era when entitled students disrupted the every day lives of the professors and staff who are the true members of the UMass community.

For that, I am truly grateful. Instead of a disruptive, noisy campus where the voices of young people rang out for morality and social justice, we now have the collegiate atmosphere deserved of a top institution. As an Ivy graduate, I arrived at UMass to an environment of disorder and chaos. Students battled against state legislators and formed student co-operatives to serve the community, not the accountants. All the while, these students ignored reality – life isn’t about the common good, it’s about dollars and cents.

We’ve made a lot of progress keeping these fools in line over the past 30 years. From the rising cost of attendance to massive cuts in state funding to more students applying for the same number of spots, we’ve built the fences that have kept ill-advised actions of uninformed students from spreading. But our job isn’t done yet. Still, students demand action on racist attacks, and for some reason, town hall meetings and a diversity strategic plan isn’t good enough for them.

So even though it’s just a symbol of the great victories we’ve won at our flagship campus over the past 30 years, we must maintain the Hasbrouck Fence to remind future generations of the hard-fought battle for exclusivity.

As Robert Frost said, “good fences make good neighbors,” and this fence reminds me exactly how good a neighbor I am.

Cook Fortune is a professor of early 20th century American poetry in the English department and can be reached at [email protected]

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