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Why the Formality?
[ Issue 134 Page 10 ] Wednesday, June 03, 2015, 20:43:34 Dongsung Park Staff Reporter dstompark@gmail.com

Recently, a distasteful conflict erupted in a club I am part of; a member of said club (whom I shall refer to as A and feminine) had had unresolved issues with a club’s associate, and under slight alcoholic influence A expressed her anger in an uproar and undirected violence. For better or worse, I had left the room slightly prior to the incident, so when the expected emergency club meeting was announced I could attend with a relatively unperturbed and neutral mind. Even considering how the meeting was just the day after, it was still a shock to see how informal, emotion driven, and even unfair the discussions panned out to be. Fortunately, a few suggested a next, formal meeting for which I volunteered to be the moderator. Within fifteen minutes of starting the second meeting, however, many complained that the meeting was too official and wanted a swift decision of the tacitly understood ultimatum (expulsion).

The most common words of disapproval I received was that the meeting was too formal on an issue that is clearly a more “human” problem. Then, ad absurdum, suppose the meeting was driven only by emotional arguments as it were the first time around and that the club arrived at some firm resolution, whether it be expulsion or pardon. Unfortunately, to me this resolution could not be taken seriously as a club’s aggregate decision; it would have been most likely that not the most common and thoroughly considered but the loudest voice would talk for the club. Indeed, many previously unvoiced opinions came forth from the introverted during the second meeting, and this is exactly the point. During such an emotionally charged discussion, the group atmosphere is a tacit threat to those who dare speak otherwise, pressuring the introverted further into silence. And then to whom is the resolution acceptable and to whom shall the responsibility of unacceptability be given? If A were to be expelled under such circumstances, she could, and honestly should, feel cheated by the club for not having given other choices equal consideration. On the other hand, those for the expulsion would hide behind the false sense of justice claiming that others had “equal” chance to talk. Although, I quote, “machine like” formality may seem as though we have discarded the humanity in the issue, it is in fact the opposite. It is because we know A is due her justice that we will painstakingly approach this issue with greater caution.

In the end, the meeting decided on A’s voluntary resignation, and I am sure that many disagreed to the decision mostly because a member had stood up to give an unsanctioned speech right before closing the meeting. On the verge of tears, he pleaded for a revision and that we were doing her injustice by not giving more emotional consideration. True: A loved the club and it showed through her years of service. She came back to coach the underclassmen, gave away sleep in times of need, and even served as chairman at one point. Losing her meant more than one less in the club. As tragic as is, however, the speech seemed to me more insulting than what could have been heroic. We had just spent three hours individually evaluating every last comment, and asking for a redo after the result does not turn out as expected is a plea to voidance. He probably did not mean such disrespect, but he still should have understood that a collective formal decision is more than just a course of action.

But why do we take so much effort for formalizing student club matters? In the end, this means nothing more than a group of students who wish to find a better pastime, is it not? I guess, but that is not the point and cannot be excuse to regress into chatter driven by emotion and not prudence. Formality isn't a soulless mechanical processes appealing only to logic. Neither is it a pretentious effort to look more important. It is the human construct to buffer our emotions and offer every sound to be heard. And most importantly, it is our promise to each other that we will be resolute and not take the matter light-heartedly.

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