A Community in Trouble by Erin Cox

Tommy Marzella writes “Miami Community Must be More Inclusive, Respectful” to the Miami University and surrounding community, which have been known not to be diverse or accepting of the little diversity the campus has. He also writes to an audience of students that normally have not made noise about changing or ideas that have bothered them on campus. Published on April 30, 2010 in The Miami Student, the article followed a slew of controversial events of hate acts towards certain groups of the community and a resulting “No Hate” protest to combat those behaviors. The “No Hate” protest drew attention to the campus because its typical quiet environment now stood up for the rights of all students on campus. Regardless of this movement, Marzella claims that Miami and the Oxford community need to more accepting of the diverse population of students that Miami does have. Since Marzella attends Miami and identifies himself as gay, he has personal experience with the events he describes. While he uses strong personal examples that touch on the emotional strings of the readers, Marzella only uses personal examples, which limits the strength of the argument and causes the author to lose credibility. He also challenges everyone to take a stand against hate, but in every example given, he failed to do what he urges readers to do making the audience question why they should take any action.

Beginning his opinion piece with two personal narratives, Marzella starts his argument by establishing that the Miami and Oxford community does not provide a safe, comfortable environment for homosexuals. Despite the recent “No Hate” protest, Marzella says through his examples that the Miami and Oxford community does in fact still maintain an environment of hate towards the LGBT community. Ultimately, his argument centers on the personal experiences where offensive language made him feel unwelcome in the community. Marzella describes when he and his boyfriend were waiting in line to get into a bar and heard the man behind him call a man inside the bar a “faggot.” In the other instance, he and his boyfriend heard someone yell “faggot” as they walked into a flower shop.

Marzella effectively uses these personal examples at the beginning of his article to show readers how he has expertise on this issue allowing readers to believe Marzella may be qualified to make these statements. Since Marzella himself has experienced this problem, readers cannot deny that hate does in fact occur on campus. The audience can then reflect on the issue and think if they have contributed to the problem or witnessed this around the community. On the other hand, if readers had not realized a problem existed, the evidence provides recognition for the audience. Also, since Marzella wrote the article after the “No Hate” protest, it would have resonated with the community because it questions any progress the community thought had been made through the protest. It appeals to the readers by making them ask how they can actually make a change to accept diversity since the protest failed.

The next point Marzella uses to support his argument centers on the failure of Miami University’s administration, faculty, and staff to educate students on diversity and acceptance. Again, Marzella uses a personal example to support this idea. He describes a class discussion with a Miami professor who used rhetoric that dismissed the existence of the gay population, thus did not endorse the diversity the campus has. Also, Marzella mentions Miami’s want to be an inclusive campus, but uses this example as a clear illustration that the goal has not been accomplished and a reason for him not to donate money to the school once he graduates.

Marzella specifically addresses the Miami campus in this claim. It appeals to the administration asking how effective their attempts at institutionalizing diversity have actually been. Also, it asks professors to reflect on their teaching and question if they enforce these hate acts with non-inclusive language in class. Further, it wants professors to think about how can they teach students to be more respectful of the diverse student body. Marzella also causes students to think about their experiences with in-class discussions and if they have been part of a class that dismisses the existence of a certain group. The effectiveness of this assertion relies on readers who can consider their experiences on campus and realize that acceptance of the diverse community that does exist remains an issue on campus that could lead to some not feeling included.

Following the idea that some students feel unwelcome on campus, Marzella argues the idea that everyone needs to take action to stop the hate and become more respectful of all people in the community. By giving examples of ways that people make the community feel unwelcoming to certain groups, Marzella highlights some behaviors that the audience may not have realized were offensive. Also, he provides the example of Ghetto fest, another notorious issue at the date of the publishing of this article. This example of the controversially themed party provides an example of non-acceptance that those in the community would recognize. He then lists some ideas of how people can begin to make a difference and take a stand, which could lead to changes to accomplish his goal of a respectful campus.

This call to action by Marzella makes his audience think about the small things they can do to show that they accept all students. The examples he gives do not ask for big movements of action that would cause world changes, which makes his call seem reasonable. Through this, he also makes readers who want to participate in this change feel empowered because the ideas he gives to take a stand can easily be done.

Marzella establishes a clear argument for why he feels unwelcome on campus and in the community, which explains why he wants a more inclusive and respectful community. However, he only uses personal examples, which limits the strength of the argument because if a reader has never realized this problem, then he may think Marzella is overreacting to events that only he has experienced. By using other examples, perhaps the events that led to the “No Hate” protest, Marzella would gain more credibility by showing the problem affects others as well. When he begins to say that he will not donate to Miami after he graduates, it shows the personal investment he has in the issue and questions his objectivity in the argument. I feel that this portion, had it been eliminated, would have kept the argument more rational, rather than make it seem as if the author was too emotionally invested.

Another reason it would have been a good idea to include other examples rather than just personal examples would be to show that the problem exists elsewhere as well. The Miami community is not the only community that commits these offensive behaviors. Marzella seems to state that this problem only exists here through him saying that the institution should not allow this to continue. However, if people leave campus and go home, they may be dealing with the same issues there. I feel that Marzella could use the Miami community as a starting point, but should also mention the larger picture that the inclusiveness needs to extend elsewhere also. Further, if Marzella could provide an example of an institution that has successfully developed into a no hate campus, this could make his argument stronger and give readers a goal for how to reach this inclusive, respectful campus since the “No Hate” protest perhaps did not prove progress towards this.

Marzella makes a clear, understandable argument, but along the way I feel there are a few ethical issues of concern. Although Marzella fights for a more respectful community, I believe that he forgets to give respect to some people. With the “No Hate” protest, I think it is unfair that Marzella does not recognize that people of the community did openly align with the LGBT community and other groups that have faced hate on campus. Marzella should give credit to those who have made steps toward making the Miami community more inclusive. Also, while he calls others to take a stand, he gives three examples of experiences where he simply did nothing when faced with the problem. While I understand that writing this article takes courage and a stand, Marzella encourages readers to take action when they hear people use the term “faggot,” the same term that he ignored twice. Also, Marzella describes his boyfriend as being “the epitome of masculinity” in one of his examples. He then proceeds to say that his boyfriend cried, as if to be masculine means that he cannot cry. This description goes against what Marzella argues that all people are different and should not be expected to act a certain way just because of his or her gender. Nonetheless, Marzella makes an effective argument for the need of the Miami community to be more accepting of the diverseness of the people living in the community.

Works Cited

Marzella, Tommy. “Miami Community Must Be More Inclusive, Respectful.” The Miami Student 30 April 2010.