Brian S. Brooks, Oopsies

Yesterday I posted an email I received from University of Missouri Chancellor Brady J. Deaton.  The email elaborated on a previous email received by University students regarding vandalism on the University’s Black Culture Center.

This email was followed up by the one I posted yesterday.

These emails were met with general appreciation on the decision made by the University to suspend the studies, while simultaneously surprised with the Chancellor’s posting of the students’ full names.  Access to the full names of the alleged perpetrators hate crime through a newspaper or  the actual police report would not be surprising.  Nevertheless, for the chancellor of a university to openly post the full names in a system-wide email, that’s interesting.

Locally, Twitter was full of students’ commentary on various facts connected to the events from their involvement in the Navy ROTC program at the University to Zachary Tucker’s home address being on Cotton Tree Drive. (click here for screenshot)

However, if you were one of the  “best students” on Mizzou’s campus, you got another email… (thanks to @ColbyWG @tdankmyer @Temrey89, who are apparently in the category of Mizzou’s “best”, for sharing this information) (click here for screenshot)

Students,

As you may be aware, two MU students were arrested today in connection with a racist incident that involved dropping cotton balls on the lawn of the Black Culture Center. I am thankful that neither appears to be a student in the School of Journalism.

In general, the best students at MU are Journalism students, as evidenced by the selection of twelve Journalism majors among 39 graduating seniors honored as The Mizzou 39. Through this program, the MU Alumni Association honors MU’s most exceptional graduating seniors. Our graduates have the highest GPAs among graduating seniors on campus, and about a third graduate with Latin honors, which is the highest percentage of any school on campus.

You are, simply, the best.

When you have a great School like ours, it is imperative that it be a welcoming and open place for students of all races and religions. It also should be a place where political, sexual and other preferences are respected.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but I will in light of the recent events: The School of Journalism stands for diversity and tolerance. Please make sure your actions reflect those qualities, and please report any violations to me or the appropriate authorities.

Brian

I have put the most interesting sections in bold for emphasis.

I’m not someone that is particular sensitive to the word choice of “tolerance” or “preference”.  Normally it’s just one of those difficult things to dance around.  Is President Obama our first Black President of our first African-American President?

We of course know that saying you have an “Oriental” friend is not the same as saying you have an “Asian” or “Chinese” friend.  There is a right way and a wrong way and there is also the context in which this diction is included.  That seems to be what has Journalism students and students from several other Schools at the University upset.

Brian S. Brooks is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Administration at the School of Journalism here at Mizzou.  He called his students, “the best”, gloating at their achievements and their history.  He segregated his students from the others at the University.  He pointed out the differences between J-School students and every other major, touted their superiority, in an email about diversity “tolerance” and a hate crime on a minority!

However, when “tolerance” and “sexual…preference” are used in the context of an email promoting segregation and a superior population I do take offense, as do many others, including those marked as superior.

I did not choose my sexuality, just as I didn’t choose to be white.

I chose my degree, I choose this school, I chose my religion, I chose my political views.

To call my sexuality a preference, to suggest that diversity should be tolerated, rubs me the wrong way.  It’s a sort of “separate but equal” situation.  In a time where a crime against a minority group has occurred, in an email where that is being issued, segregating your students as “simple the best” is in poor taste and entirely inappropriate.

It falls along the lines of politicians using terrorist attacks to raise money for their re-election campaign, ie Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI).

I was in the dark about this entire scandal until last night and into this morning when I finally asked for info through Twitter, where the tweets were flying.   Apparently, Brooks sent out another email today.

Seriously?

So, Brian, since we’re on a first name basis, let’s discuss your latest email.  Was the first actually a message “in support of MU’s African American students?”  I sure didn’t see anything in there giving support towards them, words of inspiration, inclusion etc.  It was an email about the accomplishments of your students, how they are better than the other students.

Saying you have a “35-year track record of embracing diversity” is like when straight guys call someone a “faggot” or that something stupid/wrong is “gay” and then follow up with “I have a gay friend” as if that makes it ok for them to say something like that.  It doesn’t.

It doesn’t make it ok for former Vice President Dick Cheney to support anti-marriage equality (aka anti Gay Marriage Rights) because his daughter is gay.  Challenging those who disagreed with the first email to check your “track record” is nearly as insulting as the original email.

You can’t tout a track record of not discriminating.  What if I said…

I have a 25-year track record of not drowning puppies and I have dozens of pet owners who would attest to that.

I have a 25-year track record of not murdering Jews and I have dozens of Rabbis who would attest to that.

I have a 25-year track record of not disrespecting minorities and I have dozens of black/latino/gay/transgender/Muslim friends who would attest to that.

It doesn’t work that way.

Furthermore, it would appear you have violated the MU Mass Email Policy.

…Mass e-mail is considered an appropriate form for communication of an informational item under the following circumstances: Emergency or crisis situations (including closings and delays due to hazardous weather conditions or power outages, the need to provide special assistance to students, etc.); occurrence of crimes that threaten public safety; sudden changes in traffic, campus vehicular access, and parking due to emergencies; planned or sudden disruption of significant computer network features; other critical and time-sensitive situations affecting the campus as a whole.

This wasn’t an emergency or crisis situation, the crimes were not active (the email wasn’t really even about the crimes) and it had nothing to do with traffic, roads, vehicles, network outages etc.  According to the Policy, there is a fee for violations like this.

I’ve spent entirely too much time on this, plus I’m not one of the Journalism Elite.  I’m sure whatever I’ve written is far below Brian S Brooks standards (insert sarc mark).

What are your thoughts?

15 thoughts on “Brian S. Brooks, Oopsies

  1. Another case of someone putting out an email without vetting the text (or thinking about the text and how it could be construed) and then issuing your standard “I’m sorry if…” apology.

    He chose his words poorly and made generalities about a group of students as being superior to other students. I would hope that he’d want all Mizzou students to be above racially-hostile behavior whether they’re in the J-School or otherwise. Be proud of your J-students, in the same way the business school is proud of their students. But self-gloating seems rather off-putting when he had to be pretty certain the email would not be contained to just the intended recipients. Mass communication is a dangerous tool.

  2. BB needs to work on his PR. I think the guys over in the bussiness school can help him with that, even if they aren’t the “best” students.

  3. @rzhale good point. “I’m sorry if” apologies are one of the weakest, least meaningful I’ve ever experienced.

  4. Even in his second email he is completely blind to the outrage that he used a hate crime as a way to separate the journalism students from the rest of the student body to show they are superior. Why can’t we hold every student to the same standards? I’m really sick of the elitist attitude the journalism school gives over the rest of Mizzou students and it’s embarrassing to know that hopefully soon I’ll be a j-school student and supposedly “better” than a non-journalism school student. 

    To quote @andreaksz as she says it best, “Only the j-school would turn a hate crime into a hand job for their students.”

  5. Thanks @bethshanna @nickguillory @ColbyWG @eapenthampy @kstorres @CierraObioha @jasonabent @jjabraham for the comments, thoughts and for spreading the post around.

  6. This certainly doesn’t help with the j-school’s image on campus, and as an alum I would be embarrassed if a colleague had seen something like this. It is not, however, in violation of the Mass Email Policy, as this was a message sent to an individual school’s list-serv, not an entire student body. I believe even some students are able to post to this list.

  7. When I read this email today I got a sick feeling in my stomach. As a proud MU journalism alum, I feel Mr. Brooks has given us a bad name. Most of my friends were not journalism school students and they are all excellent academics and wonderful people. I’ve never felt superior for having majored in journalism at Mizzou. In fact, I have much respect for the many students who labor through the sciences, medical school, engineering, law, etc. I finally get what my friends have always said they felt the journalism school was elitist and inexcessable, which is a major problem with journalism in general. Aren’t we supposed to be more accesible than this? Those “other fields of study” are what makes our job possible. We can’t interview other journalists for stories.

  8. I take umbrage to saying that having a “35 year track record of diversity” (assuming that is true) is the same as someone saying “I have a gay friend.” Brooks’ defense is based off of decades worth of actions and policies he has promoted, whereas the other just says that you can just say whatever you want if you’re friends with a gay guy.  The two are not at all the same.  Lay off Brian Brooks; “sexual preference” is a misnomer, but he is not the first person to use it in an innocent way- taking that and making it seem as if he is some sort of homophobe is cheap and manufacutured.  There are endless problems having to do with intolerance of homosexuals in this country, a large minority of this country that has, since the beginning of time, been ostracised for being born a certain way.  A second spent ripping Brian Brooks for intolerance is a second wasted.

  9. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone would take things other people say, blow them way out of proportion, and become so easily offended. “Track record” -it’s an expression, just like “You guys are the best” – an expression. Big deal. As for “sexual preference” – well, I prefer, that is to say I choose to do it with the lights on. Happy? C’mon folks, chill out already. At least take the time to proof-read your overly sensitive remarks next time. ”

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