A succinct column about a serious subject

In IDS on October 16, 2010 at 10:00 am

Former EIC Brad Zehr suggested this guest column about gay teen suicides by Doug Bauder. It ran in the IDS in early October. Here’s a short excerpt:

Our own Dean of Students, Pete Goldsmith, in an e-mail exchange with colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs here at Indiana University, asked the question: “Are we doing enough to support the Tylers of the world?” My answer would be probably not.

Here at IU, we are proud of the various services that the campus provides for its students, including those who identify as gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender. But are we doing enough?

And what about the dozens of other students who get harassed regularly and whose death, depression or drop-out rate goes unnoticed — even on our campus?

Here’s why it worked (according to Brad):

  • Very sequential, methodical flow. He’s taking us through a complex, sensitive, personal issue stepwise. This is especially clear in his opening two paragraphs, his list of “three lessons we can learn”, and his closing statement.
  • Tone. It’s moralistic without being condescending.his appeals to mutual respect, maturity, personal responsibility
  • His appeals to mutual respect, maturity, personal responsibility
  • This line: “Being gay is one of life’s dynamics. It’s part of some people’s identity.”

I’ll add a couple of my own thoughts to the list of “why it worked.”

  • Bauder localized the issue. He made the column appropriate for our audience – the IU community – but making specific references to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Office, online resources and Pete Goldsmith.
  • He didn’t just talk about the problem. He provided lessons we can apply to our lives. It gave us a reason to read the piece.

Thoughts? Did anyone DISLIKE this column?

  1. Tone is key here. Too many times, I’ve read columns such as this that are overshadowed by anger. The approach here is sensible, allowing many readers to stay with the writer and not get turned away by emotion.

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