The shouts of enthusiasm that filled the quad during brunch Friday, October 26, were not the generally trivial exclamations that accompany brunchtime activities. These exclamations were of a different nature—they were unified shouts for a cause; they were, quite literally, students clamoring to have their voices heard.
The cause that warranted an all-day protest was the close of the Eagle’s Nest Café and the student store. While the cause was certainly important, it was the actions of those involved that should be lauded and imitated. Instead of simply complaining about the flaws or changes that have occurred, students need to realize they have the responsibility to take power into their own hands and fight for what they believe in. Student activism precipitates change.
Perhaps the greatest examples of student activism are the sit-ins and protests that occurred during the 60s and 70s in response to the draft for the Vietnam War. Ultimately, these protests were effective in ending the draft. Although many turned violent, it is the spirit and enthusiasm that students today should channel lest the power of youth be forgotten.
When we students are complacent about unfavorable change, it is impossible for the student body to meet its wants and needs. If no voices speak up to protest, change will never follow. The students who made their voices heard on October 26, if nothing else, spread awareness of their cause. Any changes that follow will likely be attributed to their efforts.
When we come together to speak up about what should be changed, nothing can stop us. Many clubs on campus are attempting to change what they dislike through their own efforts of student activism. Girls for a Change hopes to foster gender equality; the Environmental Club hopes to remedy the harm being done to the environment. While their efforts are done piecemeal, ultimately that they are making an effort at all is what matters.
Robert F. Kennedy once said “Each time a man … acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and … those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Students should be reminded of Kennedy’s words every time they open their mouths to complain, be it about the parking restrictions or cafeteria food. It is not enough to want change; students must be willing to effect it.
It doesn’t have to start with much. In fact, just a few kids carrying signs does the trick.