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Goshay

Every college has iconic spots on campus that only mean something to students and alumni.

Kent State University is no exception. There's the abstract sculpture outside of Taylor Hall which bears a bullet hole from May 4, 1970; the Great Seal at the main gate upon which you aren't supposed to walk; and last but not least, the Rock.

The Rock is an enormous boulder located on the front of the campus, with half of its girth probably from the literally thousands of coats of paint that have been slathered upon it for more than 60 years.

The Rock is a type of student billboard, advocating all kinds of causes, and frequently bearing the Greek letters of sororities and fraternities.

Now comes word that the Rock has been desecrated with racist slogans, prompting protests by students who won't stand for it.

There's validity in the argument that some colleges have grown too intolerant and touchy-feely. However, this is not one of those cases.

According to a report by Krista Kano of the Kent Record-Courier, slogans of support for Black and LGBTQ students were covered over with "White Lives Matter," which makes no sense, given that the value of white lives has never been in question. Not ever.

Vandals also wrote that "Blacks have no home, here," which couldn't be further from the truth. Though minorities may not have been welcome with open arms, Kent State has been integrated practically from its opening on Sept. 27, 1910.

There's speculation officials may remove the Rock or restrict access to it, ending years of tradition.

But that's neither a solution nor the kind of lesson needed.

Attending college is not just about acquiring an education. You can do that online. It's also about having your presuppositions challenged, developing your critical thinking and mixing it up with people you never would have met any other way.

That isn't how it always works, of course. My time at Kent was marred by other students, including someone whom I thought was a friend, tossing the "N" word my way more than once. It was hurtful and infuriating then, just as this current episode is, now.

Most of us were working-class kids born and raised in Northeast Ohio, which means we had much more in common than not.

But I also knew people who were racist when they arrived on campus, but who evolved because they encountered all different types of people and learned we're essentially the same.

This current generation has had more exposure to people of all kinds and cultures than any in history. We always hope and expect our successors will be better than us, that they'll be smarter.

What's also disappointing about this episode is people fortunate enough to attend college are supposed to be the enlightened ones, the so-called "best and the brightest."

Clearly, that isn't always the case. When we step onto a campus, we bring our upbringing with us. But college is where you find out if the values with which you were raised have validity.

Hate is not a value.

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Charita M. Goshay is a nationally syndicated columnist for Gatehouse News Service. She is a native of Canton, Ohio, and a graduate of Kent State University where she majored in communications. Goshay has been employed at the Canton Repository since 1990. She can be reached at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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