To the men of Coffin and Keys, regarding the Aug. 26 incident in which members of your organization cornered Hope Loudon in a university parking lot:
We recognize that your organization’s founders had noble intentions to “work for the common good” and create a society in which “all component parts of our school may be represented.” However, your latest actions show that Coffin and Keys has failed to adapt to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse campus.
According to data published by UNR’s institutional analysis, women outnumbered men at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the spring 2015 semester. In addition, the numbers of both female students and minority students increased last semester from the spring of 2014.
How then can your group with your clear bias against students who are women and ethnic minorities promote the common good for a student body that has changed drastically since your inception? Quite simply, it can’t.
If you were indeed aware of and respectful toward the challenges that face students unlike yourselves, would you have cornered a lone woman in a dark parking lot? Probably not. You would have recognized that women live in near-constant fear of being victimized by men, and adjusted your actions accordingly.
If you are truly committed to improving this university, you must adopt an approach that sharply contrasts your predecessors’ — an approach that is demonstrably inclusive of all people on our campus.
In past years, your organization has repeatedly crossed the line separating constructive criticism and blatantly harmful statements through sexist and homophobic rants while also being uncomfortably generous with the ignorant use of racial slurs.
In 1987 for instance, Stephanie Brown, a presidential candidate for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, became a target for your group. In its spring newsletter, Coffin and Keys wrote:
“You know that a woman only has two places and running for ASUN President is not one of them. Stephanie Brown is a liberal, Communist, Nazi, with one Iranian parent. Do you want somebody like that eating lunch on your money?”
This kind of hateful speech has not been contained to the decades before you current members were even born.
In the 2009 Fall Bid Day Edition, your organization sent a particularly disturbing message to women on campus, writing:
“Welcome sorority class of Fall 2009. There are 220 of you young pieces of ass and the men of Coffin and Keys want to lick every one of them; we don’t discriminate. You better find that perfect white dress for sorority initiation because after going Greek we know you won’t legitimately be able to wear white at your wedding.”
These examples of glaring misogyny and racism have created a legacy for your organization — a legacy far darker and more harmful than the creators of Coffin and Keys could have imagined.
It is up to you, the Coffin and Keys of 2015, to work toward restoring your society’s tarnished reputation.
After lying relatively dormant for the past two years, you have a golden opportunity to reappear on the scene as an organization that visibly lives up to the ideals it was founded on. It is without question that cornering a woman was a misstep, to put it lightly. However, you’re now obligated to make up for that misstep with how you choose to act in the future. As it stands, your organization is working not towards the betterment of the university, but its detriment.