OrangeBand is too broad to effect real change

Virtually everyone agrees that we need to have more discussion about social issues. Magpies usually dominate the Union Free Speech Area at the U–a commuter school in one of the nation’s most homogenous regions. But this collective indifference is a deeply rooted social problem that no amount of indirect social action will profoundly affect.

Ignorance of this fact is the major failing of the OrangeBand Initiative, a program with the stated aim of promoting awareness by encouraging students to write down the issues that affect them most on a piece of orange cloth and then display these cloths on campus–thus sparking discussion without debating or being confrontational.

Richard Whipple, director of SPaCE, a student group pushing political involvement, implemented the concept after he heard about it at a conference. To be fair to Whipple, it’s easy to see how OrangeBand could have sounded like a fantastic solution, particularly at a conference.

Programs like this are all about satisfying catchy buzzwords like “raising awareness,” “fostering discussion” and “encouraging diversity.” Never mind that those goals are too ambitious–measures like OrangeBand can make it appear that such things are being accomplished.

In reality, it’s nothing more than an “initiative initiative”–meaning that its success is completely dependant on students engaging in these discussions of their own accord.

How is that different from the way things are now?

Those funds–used for the hideous fabric–could have been better spent providing a singular forum for open discussion, which would have proactively confronted the problem of low social involvement on our campus.

After all, if people really care about something, it’s unlikely that they’re going to change their stance or open their mind to another perspective because of some rag hanging off somebody’s backpack.

We learn best about each other from serious examination of specific issues, not by glossing over the gamut of social problems.

Whipple’s intention of raising dialogue is justified–it’s just that this problem can only be chiseled away, little by little, with concentrated blows. Our lack of dialogue is a social disorder that involves infinite factors. The Hinckley Institute of Politics and other campus organizations would be best served to make a dent in this problem by doing a lot for a few, instead of trying to inject the whole population with an idealistic miracle cure.