Nearly a dozen students gathered on the Main Green yesterday to protest the widespread use of geologic epithets by Brown students. The protest was sponsored by Brown Students for Geologic Equality, a student organization which describes itself as "Brown's only rock advocacy group."
The organization was formed by a small, but vocal, faction of geology concentrators in 2006 to combat what founder Tim Andrews '09 referred to as the "rampant anti-geologism" on the Brown campus.
"When I came to Brown, I was shocked by how much anti-geologic sentiment was present on campus," said Andrews. "It really disappointed me because this university should be a place that embraces all people and inanimate objects regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or mineral content."
Yesterday's protest was held specifically to raise awareness about the prevalence of geologic epithets on Brown's campus and, in the words of Andrews, "to show solidarity with geologic formations throughout the world from the lofty Himalayas to those annoying little pebbles that get caught in your shoe and are damn near impossible to get out without taking your shoe off, which is a real pain in the ass."
Although the exact definition of what constitutes a geologic epithet remains subject to debate, BGSE has targeted such phrases as "dumb as rock" and "stone deaf" as expressions that perpetuate "a false correlation between rocks and bad things" and constitute a "language of hatred" that Brown students have come to speak all too well.
"It's really quite astonishing how people can throw around these hateful words in casual conversation," said Nick Ivery '08, an active member of BSGE. "The other day I was talking with my friend who had just failed a big midterm and he was like 'I think I've hit rock bottom, Nick.' And I just thought, 'Whoa, excuse me, did you just say what I think you said?' I couldn't believe that he could be so insensitive."
"I mean rocks are people too," Ivery continued. "Wait. no. But they're still living things that deserve our resp-oh wait, never mind. Well, anyways, they may not be human and they may not be alive, but I'll be damned if rocks don't have feelings like you and me."
At its peak, the BSGE protest attracted over twenty students; however, the number quickly shrank to eleven after half of the protesters realized that it was not another Save Burma march. The remaining crowd contained a diverse mixture of several BSGE members: two students who "thought it was important to support this kind of stuff," and one student whose friend made her come. The protesters remained nonviolent throughout their march, although there was a moment of tension when counter-protesters from Brown Students for Sensible Drug Policy arrived to dispute the placement of the words "stoner" and "stoned" on BSGE's blacklist. Leaders from both organizations were able to resolve the dispute peacefully and BSGE agreed to remove the words from its list pending a comprehensive review of
its classification standards.
Ivery noted that it was a difficult decision to concede to SSDP's demands. "I didn't really have a choice," he said. "I was between a rock and a hard place."