Nothing to lose, and everything to gain: La Fuerza proposal

By Bryan LeBlanc, Special to the Denisonian

This past week was Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It culminated in a fantastic and well-attended 5k run/walk Saturday morning — a collaboration by student organizations, administration, and the wider Granville community. This outpour of concern and awareness from our community was moving to me and others there at the race. We should have this much concern over any issue that is distracting students from their goal of academics.

I know personally how distracting an eating disorder can be. It forces a needless devotion of mental energy: stress over what to eat, when to eat, how to eat. My experience with this daily stress was light, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I hope anyone at Denison who is experiencing any similar feeling would feel comfortable in reaching out to me, Res-Life, Safe Zone members, administrators, advisors, or someone else about it. Nothing would make me happier to remove you from that situation.

However, I have a larger point. I am truly thankful that our society has finally started recognize eating disorders and other issues that are less visible — closeted, if you will. Recognition for closet-able issues like sexual orientation, mental welfare, and survivor status are a testament to the progress our society is making.

However, what concerns me is that an attention to these less visible issues is now outpacing issues our society has observed for awhile. I’m talking about race.

While attention for the daily stress of eating disorders has grown, the attention for the daily stress of being a minority at a majority-white institution has diminished. Not all minority students experience this just as not every student experiences an eating disorder, but when something limits the potential of a classmate, it detracts from the Denison community as a whole.

At lot has been said about the current budget proposal for giving La Fuerza a space. In my mind, it should not be a question about the intention or rules for these budget proposals, but the biggest positive impact that this money can make. For instance, why does our campus respect the daily stress of anorexia, but not of being the only minority student in a twenty-person class?

I have never experienced the daily stress of being a racial minority student at Denison, but I understand what daily stress feels like enough to unconditionally believe the words of these students.

I understand the points of senators and others who have said that the guidelines of the budget proposal are meant to target all of the student body, and I can understand that this, to them, takes the La Fuerza proposal off the table. To me, the ends would justify the means. Student government is about holding ourselves as a student body to higher standards.

What does it say about our student body that one interpretation of the proposal rules (self-imposed I might add) would prevent us from doing something so advantageous to the student body as a whole?

As I’ve said already, what affects one student affects all of us. Reducing the daily stressors in the lives of any students on campus would make our classmates and classes more engaged.

It would also positively influence every new first-year body’s composition; there may be brilliant visiting students who see this space and decide to join such a tolerant and accepting community. If there are any students who would see this on a tour and decide not to go to here because of it, they are not right for the Denison community anyway. In my mind, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Furthermore, this is not about La Fuerza; it is about a student issue that La Fuerza is trying to resolve. I cannot stress enough that if we help a single student reduce this weight in their life, the entire community will benefit.

To my fellow students and DCGA senators, I would ask you to seriously consider the mental well-being and daily stressors of all of our student body. If you do vote against this proposal for giving La Fuerza their own stress-free space, I hope it is because you have a better idea for addressing the stress in our constituents’ lives.