Reaction paper #1
The Need For Student Power
On Friday, September 11th, hate speech was written on the door of two students of two freshman students in Mason hall. Information was passed around the dorm, and the situation was handled on the side. Little talk broke out about the incident, and it did not enter the public conscious. Vague emails were sent out by the diversity and inclusion office, but no statement was made on the issue through any main parts of the school
By choosing silence on this issue, the university has set a precedent. Their lack of words is action in itself, and this action is of one that allows racism to continue through course its way through campus life, and leaves those who identify as muslim, or are assumed as muslim, defenseless and without the backing of their own institution. This decision to compartmentalize action into one department and not make it a priority of the those at top speak to the values that we currently have at this school.
But we as the student body is almost desensitized to these kind of issues, and it comes with no surprise. Growing and experiencing a southern college campus, we are conditioned to accept conditions as they are. With the strong notion of tradition, the student voice has a hard time getting its footing and reaching its ground. But those who in marginalized minority who experience the brunts of these traditions and the side-effects of the old ways need change to occur in order to claim that our campus is a place for all.
A power balance exists here on campus. While students are use to putting blame on those in power, and rightfully so, we must look at why almost every social issue brought up on this campus takes a wrong turn, or on the flipside, how wins towards social justice are achieved.
We need to build student power. History has not provided us with the proper structures and government that marginalized groups need. Policies protecting students against hate crimes, which is why we are currently struggling to find ways to deal with these racists and sexist incidents. We need structures in place run by students who will work to shine a light on these issues through media and communituy engagement which are often swept under the rug, and bring genuine dialogue on campus that is directed not into only class discussion and lectures, but hard policy and student power in our governing structure. We need students doing actions that bring attention to broken policies and political institutions and bring a level of critical analysis to our own community.
We must also see the importance of our work and how it goes beyond our campuses. University is often looked at as the beacon of progress where our society produces ideas. We are at a significant point of intervention; ideas are made are here and they are put out into the world to inform many aspects of our country’s society. This connection is vital to our understanding of student organizing; our actions and time here on this campus matter.