What the tragedies and controversies over break say about our nation


By now, we’re settling back into the routine of school after what was hopefully a restful week away from classes and exams. While we were away — some of us lying on the beach, some of us watching TV from our couches — news of several shocking stories broke.

We learned of the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing over 50 Muslim men, women and children who were worshipping that day, becoming the largest mass shooting in New Zealand is modern history. The shooting sparked memorials and vigils held in honor of the victims across the world, including on our own campus put together by Trinity’s Muslim Student Association (MSA). As a targeted, media-fueled hate crime, this event has people around the world wondering about the rise of Islamophobia and white nationalist terrorism and how it reaches across the globe.

How do we deal with this as a society? How should we confront Islamophobia and white supremacist thoughts? It starts by acknowledging that these ideologies aren’t solely from men in white hoods. Toxic thoughts and behaviors like these permeate our culture and those around the world as so many western countries have actively silenced voices that we don’t agree with.

We can start by listening to people of color and minorities to understand them and understand where our inner fear comes from and how that inner fear has the potential to develop into hatred. Talk to students in MSA if you want to understand more about their religion and culture. If you went to the vigil they put on this week, you understand that speaking out is just as important as listening. We are complicit when we are silent.

More locally, our community has been discussing the college admissions scandal. If you’re unfamiliar with what happened, you can read more about it in the news and opinion sections. The scandal shocked us, not only because we learned how affluent families can pay their children’s way into elite colleges, but also because the mastermind behind the entire scheme is a Trinity graduate.

This news has big implications for anyone in college or seeking admission, and especially for students coming from minority backgrounds. The New York Times interviewed high school students from low-income families and different racial backgrounds and who expressed frustration with the recent news. They concluded that no matter how hard they work against the odds and disadvantages they are faced with, more privileged and affluent students will be able to buy their spots in college.

What we can take away from both of these situations is that society is struggling to deal with the complicated relationship between privilege and race and religion and class that has been brought to the forefront of national conversation. Both of these tragic and disappointing news stories show that people from diverse backgrounds are not seen as equals to their rich, white, Christian counterparts.

As Trinity students, we can do our best to empathize with our fellow peers who feel affected by these stories. We should strive to listen to one another and to let students, especially Muslim students and students of color, feel heard, but make sure that we are not silent. We need to do our part as well.