Date Posted: September 29, 2011
Print Edition: September 28, 2011
I’d like to inform you all that I made a speling mistake in last week’s paper. To some of you this doesn’t really come as a surprise, as you’ve been writing papers long enough to realize that errors are essentially a fact of life. Others are perhaps more troubled by the implication that I only made “one” error, when, in their opinion, this publication is a joke tabloid being produced by glorified orangutans.
For those who don’t remember the error (or found a different one), you should read Opinion Editor Jack Brown’s editorial “We suck and here’s why” for clarification. Last week I made a change to the title of his article which introduced a spelling error, and consequently damaged the credibility of his work. While I might plead that the change was made at the end of a frantic twelve-hour editing cycle, excuses can’t recall the 1,500 issues of The Cascade we distributed with an error beside Jack’s name.
Thankfully the man has since forgiven me, yet the experience made me ponder what exactly it means to “be in charge.” As SUS communications director Jhim Burwell told me today “As Spiderman/Batman once said ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’” Obviously Jhim isn’t very familiar with his superheroes, and the saying has been worn to death, but the truth in that statement hasn’t changed over the years.
The fact is that all of the institutions we use, from university to food services, are operated and run by individuals with varying degrees of power over us (and therefore varying degrees of responsibility for us). Some of these individuals, like Spiderman/Batman himself, or even Sodexo Manager Douglas Fowler, hold significant amounts of power, enough to pump us full of batarangs (or at least raise the cost of cafeteria sushi).
These individuals are supposedly in their positions because they’ve proven capable of handling the responsibility, yet no one’s infallible. Mistakes are sometimes made, details are missed, and yet the greater the power invested in the individual, the greater the consequences of their oversights. Despite my personal disagreements with aspects of Sodexo policy, I cannot help but empathize with Mr. Fowler as he seeks to defend himself and his employer against the various criticisms. No individual is perfect, and as corporations are made up of individuals, they are far from perfect as well.
Not that I believe implicit humanity makes the criticism less accurate, or justifies mistakes. This piece is not designed as a shallowly-veiled attempt to elicit sympathy for my poor spelling, but instead a call to remember that power can be as difficult a thing to possess as it is to challenge. As students we are often called to rebel, to rise up against the institution and “stick it to the man,” so to speak. I would just ask us to remember that “the man” is ultimately just that, a man (or woman, although that ruins the analogy) and that he or she deserves the same respect as anyone else on this wonderful planet.
I also, for one, enjoy the cafeteria sushi, although I would still have some suggestions for Mr. Fowler, should I ever meet him in person.