Strangled with protection

Our system of justice is a series of checks and balances in which everyone is held accountable in some way. We could imagine it as a web where everyone is interconnected, where our representative officials necessarily rely on the support of their constituents and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed—a phrase more alien to many here at Bellevue College than it should be.

Over time, we add more strands to this web as the body of law increases, and the sheer mass of thread—“red tape,” more accurately—can impede our ability to notice these fractures. The incredible tangle of words and bylaws can become the very wall behind which injustice can hide, under the guise of due process and equality. In application, what I’m getting at is this: don’t expect justice to be served in the recent case of “vandalism” at BC’s LGBTQ Resource Center. The web is too thick, and the case will stagnate, decay and be forgotten long before the guilty party’s identity is made public by the school.

Now, I am still of the opinion that the issue is a bit overblown and the idea of suspending or expelling a student merely for writing something in erasable marker on an erasable board is far beyond excessive, even if the writing happens to be something as repulsive as “fags and homos.” Students should be allowed to attempt to find out what happened though, even if only of their own volition. But there’s red tape for that. When The Watchdog first began investigating the case, the head of campus security, Tommy Vu threatened the writer of the story with a lawsuit. Or did he? When I went to find out exactly what had been said to the writer, he said that he couldn’t talk about the conversation with the writer because it would somehow adversely affect the vandalism case. “I can’t compromise the case as of this time because it’s still under investigation.”

Really? A simple answer about whether or not security was interfering with a student’s free inquiry by threat of litigation would interfere with the vandalism case? What about justice for that writer? What about peace of mind for the LGBTQ Resource Center? It’s an intelligent use of the Fifth, sure, but it really says something about transparency on campus, or lack thereof.

It would appear that the opacity of the tangled mess of laws, rules and regulations has, paradoxically, left many people either held completely unaccountable or accountable to the wrong people. The Associated Student Government is voted on, the student paper is either read or ignored, and professors’ classes can be freely taken or not taken. In what way are school administrators held accountable to students though? I don’t know how much you, the reader, care about the “vandalism” ordeal, but if you do, we have to ensure individual rights, transparency and proper accountability before we can expect justice. All three have been going out the window, and will continue to do so unless you (yes, you) do something about it.