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Just before fall break, coning drama splat­tered on Hillsdale’s campus. A student made a poor tac­tical choice in a prank, other stu­dents got involved, and the admin­is­tration reacted. Rumors of injustice swept across campus like germs in a ball pit. What had ges­tated behind dorm room doors and in the dean’s office was trum­peted in Saga and on Facebook. Everyone had an opinion and that opinion was sup­ported by Augustine, Homer, and at least one of the Founding Fathers.
This edi­torial neither defends nor attacks either side of the story. We don’t have the full story and frankly, we don’t want it. This issue is a matter of admin­is­trative dis­ci­pline, some­thing the Col­legian only reports on when it involves the law or official groups on campus.
But, to us on the edi­torial board, the events around the coning itself matter much less than the reaction of the student body. It illus­trates a toxic ten­dency of many Hillsdale stu­dents: we get swept up in mobbish reac­tions to rumors of injustice on campus, whether admin­is­trative or otherwise.
Know that this is as much of a rebuke to the Col­legian editors and writers as it is to the student body in general. We’re some­times so des­perate to break the next Watergate scandal that we let our desire to spread infor­mation over­power our dis­cernment. We can get as self-right­eously indignant as the next group on campus.
This sort of behavior is unfair to both the sup­posed offenders and the pun­ishers. Mar­tyring stu­dents and vil­i­fying admin­is­trators pre­vents both rational dis­cussion and action to resolve the issue at hand. It reduces all parties involved to the incom­plete, unin­formed car­i­ca­tures our small campus invents and dis­sem­i­nates. We should not insert our­selves into the administration’s dis­ci­plinary mea­sures when we are neither part of the problem nor the solution. And it’s not limited to the coning fiasco. These sen­ti­ments pop up whenever a fra­ternity or off-campus house is dis­ci­plined for underage drinking or when stu­dents fail to receive a hoped-for RA position.
Such behavior becomes a sopho­moric — apologies to the sophomore class — expression of a legit­imate feeling. Skep­ticism of cen­tralized power is a healthy instinct, but invoking student-body sol­i­darity over the pun­ishment of an indi­vidual is the wrong expression.