EDITORIAL: What have you done for us lately?
While anyone with a message to send is entitled to their right to deliver it, it’s alarming that radical viewpoints – one that most students appear to disagree with – can serve as the predominant voice on a campus of nearly 20,000 students.
College campuses, filled with generations of future politicians and industry leaders, have traditionally served as the breeding grounds for social change. Students, traditionally, have been the catalytic voice for political action.
At CMU, however, we are complacent. It’s time to make a change.
The Student Government Association claims to be the “official voice of the student body.” Monday, as debates begin for the March 31 election, we question the organization’s role on campus.
This year, under Marie Reimers’ leadership, SGA has lent their support for a number of initiatives, including the use of sustainable seafood in dining halls and the extension of operating hours at the Bovee University Center.
SGA also played a role in revitalizing tailgating before football games and increasing the Campus Programming Fund.
As an organization that should be at the forefront of political and social change, the SGA has failed us. As students who have a duty to get involved in meaningful causes, we have failed each other.
Instead of demonstrations or protests about important issues, our students and student leaders have decided to focus on more frivolous ventures. Protest, petition and picketing used to be commonplace on a university campus. Students, and their student government used to make a bigger impact on our daily lives.
Reimers is an avid advocate for LGBTQ rights, but where was SGA during the court trial to end the Michigan ban on gay marriage?
What about when Gov. Rick Snyder cut back on state appropriations?
Where was the student backlash for increasing tuition? What about our campus policy for guns on campus?
In the '60s, as more students were drafted into armed services during the Vietnam War, student groups took to the streets for change. Students picketed alongside their SGA to voice their concerns and to make a difference.
Where was the support to pull our troops from the war in Iraq or Afghanistan? It’s a concept that seems foreign now.
Over the past few years, the voice of our student body has exerted little influence. Student activism, especially that led by SGA, has been non-existent. Issues of real social change have been largely ignored.
It's become easy for students to post their concerns to social media and set real demonstrations and pickets aside. However, tweets and status updates serve more as an expression of identity, rather than an instrument for actual change.
Now, as the opportunity for new leadership arrives at the SGA, it is time to make an impact. Regardless of who takes the reigns of our student government, we hope to see a renewed advocation for change and a willingness to make a real difference.
In the past decade, we, as students, have stood idly by as reforms that hardly impacted the student body traveled through our SGA. Now is the time to redefine the role of our student government, amplify the voice of the students and to make a solid plan for our future.
At tonight’s debate, we want to hear from a candidate who is willing to make an impact. We want someone who can stand up for what we believe in, take action and demand our voice be heard.
We want students there, asking the tough questions and getting involved in student government.
Ultimately, we want a return to the perspective that it's us who can – and will – make a difference.