Humor is personal and individualized. Everyone has their own opinion on what is funny and what is not. The quick-witted reply that strikes one person’s funny bone might fall short for the next person.
The traditional Feather Brain issue of the Weather Vane which is printed once a semester always attempts to lighten moods and provide a good laugh for EMU readers. Some might even say the Feather Brain helps students and faculty identify with the school as they unite in laughter over articles on well-known EMU themes such as “the hill”, “open hours”, and “sustainability.” I believe that the Feather Brain is often successful in this goal. In the November 21 Feather Brain issue, I found many things humorous, such as quoting students with multiple hyphenated Mennonite last names (“Swartzentruber-Shank-Shenk- Nafziger-Miller-Yoder”) and dry humor in regards to violation of open hours.
However, the final page of the Feather Brain was insensitive and unnecessary. Instead of creating an atmosphere of shared EMU identity, it singled out individuals and mocked them, breaking down those bonds. I can imagine feeling hurt and judged if my picture and an insensitive quote had been featured in this issue. Individuals should not be singled out for the amusement of others in a light-hearted school-wide newspaper.
Finally, generalizations that group people into cliques create divisions based on assumptions. Stereotyping threatens identity by promoting labeling and prejudice. I was disappointed in the labels which implied cliques based on piety and athletic ability. This activity (“Match the clique to the correct image and weekend activity”) also promoted judgment based on weekend activity choices.
I strongly feel that any Weather Vane issue should enhance, develop and promote the identity of EMU. Singling out groups or individuals is not helpful and does not promote community. Let’s take pride in our school and use sensitivity when publicly using humor.
-Katie Eckman and Ranita Shenk