The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the editor: Rethinking the Ganesh move

In response to the removal of Ganesh from the mandap on the south side of Noyce, I’d like to note that the initial purpose of the project was to commemorate a student, Jamison Curran ’01, who was murdered during his semester abroad in India. The site became a sacred space after Ganesh was endowed with a Hindu god, and additional modifications were added to make the area more suitable. The 20,000-dollar result was a locally-carved mandap made from imported cedar, ADA accessible with security lighting, in a quiet corner that students could glance at every day as they walked to class or visit for a minute of peace.

I understand from the article written in last week’s issue that someone tried to set Ganesh on fire. A friend of mine asked me, “What if Ganesh had been a nativity scene?” And I realized that the campus would’ve been in an uproar. But would the result have been the evacuation of the nativity scene into a room in the CRSSJ that maybe five people a year will go out of their way to visit?

Unfortunately, in the real world, you can’t uproot all sacred spaces and reserve them for those who already know the correct way to treat them. And while lighting anything on fire is an obvious offense, last week’s article implied that things like taking off your shoes or not talking on your cell phone are also obvious.

Even if I’m wrong and that room in the CRSSJ is regularly visited, it will be by people who already know the rules, and those who don’t have lost a chance to learn from their mistakes. This is a college.

Aren’t we supposed to be learning how to be culturally aware adults?

Did anyone even consider trying to post a sign first, informing visitors not to talk on their cell phones and to take off their shoes? Why was the immediate reaction to assume that students would callously disregard the rules of a sacred space? Because of one jerk with a lighter?

The time and effort put into the space shouldn’t be wasted. If Ganesh isn’t at home there, we should fill the space with a student art installation or similar work, if only to respect the original commemorative purpose of the project.

—Sara Ramey ’15

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