Michael Bodner is Gonzo Leader, and in this letter hopes to address community concerns about the program.
At what point does censorship become oppression on a Christian campus? In my three years as Gonzo leader, this is a question I have been forced to wrestle with since day one. Many people have come up to me and expressed their concern about Gonzo’s use of profanity, questioning the ethics behind encouraging students to come out and watch plays about sex, drugs, and unhealthy lifestyles.
So is it necessary to have a place on campus that blatantly rejects censorship? Is Gonzo actually necessary to have available to EMU students or is it just an excuse for students to get together and cuss?
A few people, both students and faculty, believe Gonzo to be the latter. And you know what? They’re right. I know, it’s shocking, right? As Gonzo leader, I should be promoting Gonzo and presenting it as an important part of a healthy community. Well, that would be a lie, so no.
When it comes right down to it, Gonzo has no place in a perfect community, so thank God EMU’s students are anything but perfect. We are all beautifully flawed: painfully growing and learning together. Should we choose to ignore this fact or pretend that EMU students are without struggles, we find the point where censorship in the name of maintaining a Christian community becomes a form of oppression.
We students here are not perfect; we are human. It is easy to deny issues that we all clearly face. It is a whole lot harder to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position so that we might better understand something that we may not agree with. If we are asked to censor ourselves, these issues will not be discussed. They will continue in silence.
So yes, Gonzo is a place to take all of our pain and ugliness and share it with our community. It is a place for us to address issues that make us uncomfortable. It is a place for all of us to get together and embrace challenging topics so that we can grow.
Gonzo is not for everyone. We have run into problems in the past where students have attended and left feeling offended. To these students, I have two things that I would like you to keep in mind. The first is if you do not like Gonzo it is okay to not attend.
There is no pressure to attend if you do not want to, it is seriously okay. The second is, if you do attend a Gonzo and you are offended; know that EMU is in no way associated with Gonzo. If there is a problem or if a script really offended or hurt you, please talk to the Gonzo leader. The last thing we want to do is hurt you. If you are offended, please come and talk to us.
Gonzo’s mission is to create a space for EMU students to use art to discuss topics that students want to talk about. We want to give you an opportunity to write something funny or serious and not feel that you need to keep your feelings pent up inside. We are not asking you to hold back in the name of censorship, and we are not asking you to pretend that you are not dealing with your own personal demons. The only thing we want is to let struggling students on campus know that they are not alone.
-Michael Bodner, News Editor
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