U.N.H. vs. Sheriff Clarke

Alessia Bicknese

Throughout this entire week, speculation has roamed around Sheriff David Clarke, President Kaplan, and the University of New Haven as a whole. From the standpoint of the student body, individuals became enraged over the fact that President Kaplan allegedly rescinded an invitation sent to Sheriff Clarke to speak at the Markle Symposium. One student even went above and beyond to start a petition, with hopes that if it reached its goal of 2,500 signatures, Kaplan would “apologize” to Sheriff Clarke, and invite him back to speak. A petition of which Kaplan had no intention or care to acknowledge or act upon if it reached its target signature count.

Originally, the petition called for 2,500 signatures, but now has over 2,900, along with a new set goal of 5,000. What students are failing to recognize when signing the petition is that, Kaplan most likely does not care for this plea. There was no agreement between President Kaplan and the student body about a change if the signature goal was met. I believe that students are over characterizing this specific incident, and it should not be fed in to as much as it has been. Now that there is a ton of new information from the university and from Sheriff Clarke, students should be settling down from this mild dispute.

As students at this university, we should recognize that we are in fact, proudly, one of the most diverse schools in Connecticut. That is a great attribute for a university to have. However, that attribute went unnoticed and overlooked in the title of one of Sheriff Clarke’s (many) blog posts regarding the subject of the rescinded invitation: “Predominantly white college disinvites black man to show they care about minorities.” Students at our very own university failed to acknowledge the title of his blog post, which does feel like a subtle insult, and began jumping to conclusions that President Kaplan was a harsh and self-centered individual, who only cared about what his image would turn into if he had let someone who didn’t support BLM speak at the university.

Suddenly, students began sharing their opinions, some diligent and thorough, while some were harsh and punitive. Why did it suddenly become ethical to ridicule our own school? It mostly began when the University of New Haven’s Facebook page let out a statement, announcing that they support “free speech,” which was completely misinterpreted by social media. Students claimed that the school did not believe in freedom of speech, since Sheriff Clarke spoke out about BLM, and was rescinded for that reason only. The situation developed into a characterized product of the media. Unfortunately, we as humans, have selective hearing when it comes to good and bad. Often times, we choose to feed into the bad news, and mold it into something bigger than it needs to be. By constantly feeding into the subject, we gave Sheriff Clarke the motivation to continuously blog and tweet about the nonexistent concerns that our school has. I, myself, was a victim of falling into the first claims I heard about this instance, as a product of social media.

The issue here is that students began making their own claims, and altering the story so that they had something to talk about. The truth is, at that point in time, no one knew or understood the entirety of the story. Unfortunately, no one will ever truly know the whole story with every single detail. Even though the story has been added to and possibly cleared up in many aspects, students are still criticizing President Kaplan and not paying attention to the truth of the matter. The petition is gaining signatures, as students are not allowing themselves to gain the newfound realities of this minor dispute. There will always be two sides to every story. The choice remains in our hands to allow ourselves to look into both sides.