Seniors grill Grassley on gay marriage


Natalie Larimer, Online Sub-Editor

One month before elections, a certain 81-year-old senator invited himself to our school to talk politics with the only class who would have a chance to be able to vote for this term. During his Q&A with the seniors, Senator Grassley was faced with a tough question asked by senior Shuda Jarboe. What his reasoning for opposing gay marriage was, putting religious views to the side.

“He pretty much said two sentences about states rights and said absolutely nothing about his stance on gay marriage or his reasons for opposing it,” Jarboe said. Grassley’s insufficient answer prompted senior Gillian Kolotsane-Wren to ask a follow-up question calling him out for not answering.

“It’s like, okay, that doesn’t answer the question at all and we were all really just frustrated because he didn’t answer the question, it’s really annoying when people don’t do that,” Kolotsane-Wren said. She is now being regarded as rude due to her actions, even though that is not where her intent was. Students claim that Kolotsane-Wren raised her voice and was incredibly disrespectful to the Senator. “I didn’t sit there and cuss him out,” Kolotsane-Wren said. “I didn’t flip him off. I didn’t do anything rude. That’s just how I speak.”

There are others who say that Kolotsane-Wren didn’t step out of line with her question at all. “Gillian seemed to respond, her question was more emotional, she felt as if the question hadn’t been answered,” government teacher Ben Knight said. “That’s the way I would interpret it. I wouldn’t interpret it as disrespectful, I’d say more emotional.”

The tone of voice the question was asked in is what has people thinking it was disrespectful, however, if you talk to Kolotsane-Wren for more than a minute, you figure out pretty quickly that she just talks like that. “I don’t think she was disrespectful, I don’t think that Jill is a disrespectful person,” Jarboe said. “I think Senator Grassley read her tone as disrespect, however, anyone who knows Jill knows that she was just trying to make sure that he could hear her and that he understood that how he had answered the question previously wasn’t really an answer.”

The fact that people are now calling out Kolotsane-Wren for being rude is truly ironic. “Anytime there’s a perceived controversial question being asked, it can ruffle people’s sensibilities,” Knight said. “Now whether or not Gillian was disrespectful or rude, I wouldn’t be able to comment on that other than she responded emotionally and she wanted an answer. I think you’re allowed to have passion when you ask your Senator a question.”

Gillian was not being rude. She was being upfront and direct. She wanted to call him out for what he said that she did not agree with, and that is allowed. The government teachers were telling us to get Grassley backed into a corner with our questions anyway, and she definitely succeeded. Jarboe came up with a brilliant question that needed to be asked and when he avoided answering, Kolotsane-Wren responded in a very effective way and those who argue it was disrespectful need to chill out.