Serving as host of the first 2020 presidential debate has brought a lot of attention to Case Western Reserve University. However, while on the surface it may seem like a good thing that CWRU is receiving national recognition, there’s an underlying problem that should be taking precedence over the newfound publicity: the well-being of CWRU’s students.
When CWRU announced it would be hosting the debate, students responded with serious concerns and dissent regarding the decision. Obviously, there was distress about COVID-19 and how the lives of students on campus would be affected. This worry also goes hand in hand with the recent flood of posts on @cwru.survivors, @black.at.cwru, @lgbtqatcwru, and other Instagram accounts that have brought to light the systematic issues on campus.
In response to these accounts and their anonymous submissions, students were outraged at how horribly CWRU’s administrators, faculty, staff, greek life and other resources were treating its students. Despite these concerns, CWRU didn’t do much to assure students that they were going to take definitive action. Day of Dialogue events, the creation of a task force, and vague emails clarifying misconceptions about investigators, along with other so-called actions, aren’t the real substantial changes that the university needs.
Instead of pursuing a one-for-all solution, the university should work with students to figure out solutions that would benefit everyone at this university.
Instead of caring for the well-being of students, CWRU has decided that hosting a debate during the middle of a pandemic and a nationwide call for social justice is more important. Many in the community have pushed back against the choice to bring the event to campus, with @cwru.survivors stating: “To be honest, the fact that our university is so willing to put themselves on center stage for the media and general public, yet will not even officially address the rampant sexual violence present on campus, feels like a slap in the face to survivors. It did not go unnoticed that the university gave a statement to CBS News in the recent article about sexual violence and the @cwru.survivors Instagram account, yet gave no such equivalent statement or acknowledgement to the students.”
@cwru.survivors sums up the views of many people in the community, and they aren’t only ones publicly expressing their anger over this debate. Several students have left comments on posts on CWRU’s Instagram page expressing their feelings over this choice. By inviting candidates who have several sexual assault allegations against them, and a canditate who is against survivors, women, the LGBTQ community, BIPOC and so forth, indicates that CWRU is disregarding its students’ feelings.
This semester certainly brings new experiences for everyone, making it difficult to navigate how to handle campus problems. However, by choosing to bring national attention to a university where many students already don’t feel safe, the administration is clearly sending a message to our student body that they don’t care about us as much as media attention.
By hosting this debate, CWRU is prioritizing publicity over systematic change that would actually benefit its students.