Closing Center was a NKU ‘power play’

Northern Kentucky University students and the community are being robbed of an invaluable educational resource, but pay attention: we are being treated to a lesson in misuse of power and its legitimization by a bureaucratic machine (“Holocaust Center Closed” Northerner, Sept. 14th,2005).

An important clue in understanding this situation lies in the name of the removed center, “The Holocaust Education Resource Center,” not “Nazi Paraphernalia on Display” or “Holocaust Objects on View.” Those things might be “look-see-don’t-touch” antiseptic walk-by museum pieces, which is not an educational resource center with 600 books, 100 films, educational CDs, lesson plans or the available expertise of professor Kersell.

The proposed dismemberment and sterilization of an interactive educational resource by dispersing and placing it behind glass diminishes its impact, redefines its purpose and is an insult to the vision of professor Kersell.

It is apples and oranges, passive v. interactive, differing “definitions of the situation.”

Here’s legitimizing language from the administration: “..always very supportive of Ms. Kersell’s work (then there’s the deflective dialogue regarding pay, class load, etc.), NKU was “thrilled” to offer space in the library, “…a very prestigious opportunity…” Get it? The ol’ “good guy/bad guy” trick, with the university as the reasonable, magnanimous provider of wonderful things and Kersell, the unreasonable, wound-up, “I’ll take my toys away if you don’t play my way” person.

“Prestigious opportunity” and “honor her” are smoke screen non-sequiturs. Sharing her collection in a dynamic, hands-on educational center is “something worthwhile” for professor Kersell. The context of accolade is inconsistent.

Here’s what won’t happen if the university persists in its incomprehensible rigidity: A student member hears of the only Holocaust Education Resource Center in Kentucky and is interested.

Upon entering, a book title smacks the student in the eye, “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.” What? Flipping to a page, maybe they read, “Between two throws in a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death” (pg. 84) or “I do not know whether we shall survive, but I like to think that one day we shall have the courage to tell the world the whole truth and call it by its proper name” (pg. 122).

So, how did this happen and what was the world doing or not doing?

Check out an in-depth, educational documentary or German propaganda video.

The book (“This way…”) is checked out, returned and another book title captures the student’s attention, “All But My Life” and he/she learns that the author Gerda Weissman-Klein, a remarkable woman who survived a death march and other horrors, is coming to this very campus offering a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone attending on Oct.19 at 7 p.m. in Greaves Hall.

Due to the interactive structure of the center, people can speak with professor Kersell in person, gaining a patient, compassionate and educated explanation of what her collection is all about.

How can this happen in a sanitized, impersonal and “prestigious” scattered display in Steely?

Let’s call this by its proper name: “bureaucratic bumbling.”

The question of space?

Oh please, there’s plenty of space for the Baptist Student Union or the Welcome Center (just two on a long list).

The only right thing in the space-based concept is the Center needs more. It should be a building.

So how about BSU, easy access and all, sharing some? It could be a diversity statement.

Funding? The Holocaust Center, free to the public, is a community service; over $1 million dollars has been allocated to Lake Inferior and an obscene amount is spent on landscaping (another long list).

Staffing? Use students or community volunteers.

Ubiquitous solutions abound within a creative context.

I see some kind of power play, because surely Wells, Schmidt and other administrators know apples from oranges. Who’s thinking “prestige under glass?”

Sharon R. Stevens

Sociology major