Five issues ago on Oct. 5 the Trinitonian ran a guest opinion column written by President Dennis Ahlburg that presented facts about tattoos and encouraged students to think twice before acquiring body art. Three days later the column received its first comment on our website. On Oct. 29 it was posted to the Trinity University Greek Alumni Facebook group.
Currently, there are 37 comments on our website in response to his column, making it more popular than any article we have run all year, and there are 19 comments circulating on the Greek Alumni thread. Almost all of these comments criticize the president in some way. Whether it’s his grammatical mistakes, his ability to lead or his general philosophy, everyone “” and we do mean everyone: professors, alumni, students and even potential students “” seems to have a response for the most powerful man at Trinity.
While we are grateful his column generated discourse and engaged readers, we feel it’s time to put it into perspective and move on. The man isn’t saying anyone with tattoos is a lowlife individual with no class, possibilities of getting a job or redeeming qualities. He’s simply pointing out an unfortunate reality: that sometimes rash decisions lead to permanent consequences and that society, as a whole, is not always accepting of body art, especially in professional settings.
Yes, we agree that this issue is not the most important thing plaguing our campus and will admit we wondered what spurred his sudden interest in tramp stamps, but we don’t think there’s any reason for him not to express his opinion. That’s the beauty of a liberal arts institution and the United States of America. He has the right to voice his views, and we have the right to disagree.
But to say he is unfit to preside over our school or is severely out of touch with the student body is unfair, and, quite honestly, incorrect. Compared to past presidents, Ahlburg goes out of his way to engage students on this campus, responding to their inquiries; whether it be the student activity time block, the food at Mabee or extra playing time for intramural sports on the athletic fields, he makes the time to listen (see “Office hours encourage student proposals,” Page 4). The issue might be that we, or those individuals weighing in on this situation, have selective hearing.
We at the Trinitonian do not always agree with the administration; in fact, we make it our job to point out inadequacies, but we appreciate Ahlburg’s open and honest approach. He is a man of conviction who provides candid responses to campus issues.
Regardless of your view, we invite everyone to get back to what really matters, and, if you don’t want to part with your keyboard and the veil of anonymity granted with online commenting, we encourage you to educate yourselves on some issues that will impact the future of this community, like the activity time blocks, the Monte Vista legal battle or the strategic plan and common curriculum overhaul. Those changes could be as permanent as tattoos.