Who’s to Blame for THORNAPPLE?
Every year, the Undergraduate Student Council (USC) comes up with a list of groups that will be featured in the annual KAIST Art and Music Festival (KAMF). In throes of the increasing awareness on gender-related issues today, discussing the controversial pasts of the cast artists prove to be difficult. The debate discusses whether the USC’s invitation of THORNAPPLE to the recent KAMF deserved the commotion it caused and where the fault lies for the controversy.
Before the advent of the #MeToo movement, and before the advent of any social controversy, there has always been the idea that individuals embody what their actions speak for. Essentially, and quite literally, I am what I do. Setting immutable ties as such makes us socially fragile and affords us very little room to make mistakes of any form.
The concept is a strange reminder of how the idea of fairness has been exploited to either grant everyone the same degree of leniency or strain all of us with the lack thereof. Can anyone really cleanse unwanted impressions one has left on the observers? I mean, artistically or literarily, can we really be in someone else’s shoes when we already have established our own? The issue of casting THORNAPPLE in the recent KAMF, I believe, is a microcosm of all these questions that beg to be answered. It’d be undermining the complexity of the issue if I had simplified it down to some organization misrepresenting an audience of students. And most importantly, to reduce the issue down to a mere local problem would be leaving those itching issues unaddressed.
As for the recruitment of THORNAPPLE, it is true that the majority of the people began shifting their opinions to match the general consensus. The fear of becoming an opinionated anomaly or the least controversial view being taken as the most “correct” is a growing trend in today’s democracy. However, it should be in a representative group’s best interest to cause the least amount of fragmentation within the student body. Simply put, you don’t need to devise a novel way to resolve a problem if you don’t allow for such controversy to take place at all.
I do agree that THORNAPPLE has been provocative in singling out students that have opposed their invitation to KAMF in its statement on withdrawing from the festival. It would have been more appropriate to address their wrong-doings and appeal to the students to perhaps grant them the benefit of the doubt — what they did instead was to display an overt sense of guiltlessness. But the main concern of the issue lies in the inconsistency of the USC, Batchim. The aforementioned framework of decision-making defines how reliable a body can be. We are all aware of the degree of stringency at which the student council has addressed other matters. Its post on consolidating school policies to prevent sexual harassment in graduate schools on April 4 and its criticism of the lopsided representation of the professors in the University Council on April 1 both exemplify the extent they’d go to uncover the nested details. Compared to those recent legislative matters, simply researching beforehand about the groups cast for KAMF shouldn’t even be half as difficult as what it usually does. It is hard to fathom that the case with THORNAPPLE simply slipped through its hands.
The duties endowed upon the USC are tough, and perhaps that acknowledgement should be made before anything else. However, the council should be aware that its mistakes taint it deeper than the accomplishments adorn its pursuits. It can’t afford to be meticulous about one matter and be lackadaisical with another. From a critic’s view, one can’t help but view it as the council paying its lip service to the students, but not genuinely having the knack to operate with reliability.