Be proactive, not reactive


At 11:08 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 42-year-old Troy Davis was executed. He was only a few weeks short of his 43rd birthday. Officers of the state of Georgia injected him with chemicals, knocking him unconscious and then stopping his heart.

Davis was on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989 murder of Savannah, Ga. police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. He had sat there for nearly half his life, maintaining his innocence and seeking appeals to the 1991 ruling.

His execution, which was scheduled for 8 p.m., received a brief stay from the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday night.

But it was to be the last delay in Davis' life.

Davis' story, especially in recent days, has received considerable coverage. Supporters of his innocence protested in front of the prison in Jackson, Ga. where he was being held. Over a million people signed a petition requesting his pardon.

To many, it seemed this case's outcome would determine their faith in the U.S. legal system. To others, it was justice or tragedy, or both.

To me, it was only recent news. Davis was executed little more than a day after I learned about his case. A professor told me after class Tuesday that she was surprised the issue hadn't received any attention from the DePauw community.

 Regardless of whether you believe Davis was innocent or guilty, you should have been aware of his story. This is a decision that affects us all, potentially affirming support or lack of faith in our legal system.

I should have known about his case, at least earlier than I did.

This campus should have been talking about this issue, not just behind closed doors and among friends, but as a community.

Perhaps, the biggest failure in that regard was with this newspaper.

Our mission is to report on issues of salience to the DePauw community. Certainly, Davis did not have any direct connections to the university, or college students in general. But his case is one that has ramifications for every citizen of the United States.

Too often at DePauw, it seems students sit back and accept business as usual. Too often, we don't challenge the assertions of others. Too often, we don't speak for ourselves.

We become so bogged down by the daily grind that we forget to pick our heads up and see what's going on around us.

Homework, meetings and all obligations provide little excuse for ignorance of matters of national or worldly importance.

Davis and the matters surrounding his case should not have gone unnoticed by myself or anyone else in the DePauw community.

It is good that supporters of Davis' innocence and opponents of the death penalty could gather for the candlelight vigil Thursday night.

It is also good that those with varying opinions can express their thoughts in this newspaper.

But it is a shame that we continue to be reactive, rather than proactive.

As weeks go by, separating us from the end of Davis' life, we should continue to debate this and many other issues.

We at The DePauw will work more diligently to ensure matters of importance to this community receive space in the pages of this newspaper.

As members of the DePauw community, we ask you to do the same.

— Cecil is a senior political science major from Elmhurst, Ill. He is Editor-in-Chief of The Depauw.