Editorial: We can do better
For graduating seniors, it’s been a long crawl to the final walk. Much has changed since our 1743 Welcome Days, which introduced us to the dead apathy of campus, a defining feature of the next four years on campus.
In September 2015, a controversy erupted surrounding a potential hate crime. Objects that resembled nooses hung from a tree on The Green.
Some protested, while others never even noticed that the controversy had occurred. They uninterruptedly enjoyed the dog days of summer, while some students were forced to question whether they truly felt comfortable on this campus.
We’ve witnessed the dawn of a few new presidents — namely, that of both the university and the country. Each of these puzzling figures has inspired varying reactions among students.
Some student body members have gotten swept up in this political chaos, spinning such into an opportunity to protest unprecedentedly unfair policies or pursue work in the government sector. More common, though, is a collective reaction akin to a sigh and a shrug.
Recently, an inordinate amount of students were roused to act following the passage of Newark’s Unruly Social Gathering Ordinance. The petition, slapped together without a solid proofread and shared across campus merely minutes after the unsurprising news broke, reached over 14,000 signatures.
It’s disheartening that an unworthy cause garnered such an intense and immediate reaction, while more noble efforts struggle to get off the ground, even after months of collective efforts.
While this specific ruling inspired fiery reactions, students still seem unwilling to commit themselves to a cause that is explicitly political, controversial or partisan. It’s safe to protest for the right to party — not to, say, raise money to send a refugee student to school.
But if we thought all hope was lost, that we couldn’t do better as a campus, we wouldn’t be writing this. Certain headlines have roused students to action. At various points over the past four years, a passionate few spoke out in favor of increased awareness of campus sexual assault and common-sense gun laws. The campus has become a leader in voter registration. Denim Day and Take Back the Night have grown in popularity. Being invited to Facebook events that advertise campus protests has become a far more common occurrence.
Because of its devotion to worthy causes, this campus has become a more political and inclusive place. These individuals have inspired meaningful change in their communities and opened the door for those who may have been too afraid to take the first step.
But, as always, there’s still room for growth.
The lack of initiative posed by the Student Government Association (SGA) feeds into this toxic cycle of apathy. We cannot expect to have an engaged student body if our elected representatives shroud their initiatives in secrecy and side with university administrators on important issues. If SGA represented the student body in a meaningful way and organized events that encouraged mobilization around relevant issues, perhaps they would begin to serve a purpose.
(And, perhaps, more than one person would run for president.)
Being an active citizen does not mean that you support Joe Biden whenever he decides to show up to campus, nor does it mean that you provide SGA with your occasional input. It means that you consistently show up and speak out about the causes that are important to you in whatever ways that you can. That you use your voice, whether in writing or in person, to provoke conversation contribute to the circulation of ideas on campus. And it’s a collective effort, one that requires more than the same voices repeating themselves each week.
Being a part of a civically engaged campus community gives people the opportunity to meet people with similar interests, gain experience in philanthropy and make meaningful changes in and around campus. It’s inspiring, moving and fun. Take a note from those who have dedicated their time here to elevating the voices of those who need to be heard, and, together, we can continue inching closer toward tangible change.
Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, led this week by Alex Eichenstein. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.