Originally published Sept. 19, 2013

Co-written with the editorial board

Grand Valley State University played host to a disturbing sight this week: one that backs a student’s desperate Twitter plea for the attention (if not ridicule) of the likes of Daniel Tosh.

The loss of the pendulum — now dubbed the “Wrecking Ball” after nude students used it to parody the popular Miley Cyrus video — hit the GVSU community hard. Outraged students engaged in frivolous dialogue about the confiscated ball, organized an impromptu memorial service, and took to social media sites to express their despair.

But where were the restless conversations about the massacre of twelve Americans slain in a domestic attack? Where was the throng of students singing hymns to honor the veterans and technicians lost only a day prior?

While GVSU students spent their time Tweeting, Facebooking, blowing up any and all social media sites promoting the overnight fame of the university, the rest of the country was grieving a truly senseless loss. What officials have identified as the deadliest attack on an American military base since 2009 was overlooked at the isolated Allendale campus, which was absorbed in its own “tragedy.”

The choice to emotionally invest in the disappearance of a piece of art rather than the murder of military personnel testifies to the disturbing priorities of GVSU students.

The silly distraction offends the sensibilities of America. It begs the question: are we capable of empathy? Are we capable of witnessing the suffering of others, channeling their hurt, and expressing one of a similar nature?

The minute controversy of the mid-sized Michigan university may have attracted the attention of national media, but it wasn’t the country’s only talking-point. And it’s about time GVSU students recognize that they have more to talk about, too.

There’s more going on in the world than the inconsequential retirement of a metal ball, the nudity of a pop star, and the immature replication of music videos, and it’s embarrassing that GVSU students can’t take the time to remove themselves from the center of the universe to recognize this.

 

Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/09/setting-priorities

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