EDITORIAL: When students work together, change is possible
Too often Central Michigan University students feel like just another face in the crowd. Just another tuition bill. Just one more parking ticket. Just one more mouth to feed with a prepaid meal plan that doesn't deliver.
It makes sense.
At a university where directives are broadcast on hallway televisions and the president’s face is plastered in every building - it’s easy to feel like more of a visitor in someone else's home rather than someone who has a voice that matters here.
As we've recently reported, when those mouths aren’t fed – when CMU administrators can’t figure out how to perform even that most basic task – we show them that we do have a voice. And we showed just how loud that voice can get.
CMU has yet to give us the campus dining service it promised – that it sold to us. So, as any “customer” would, we fired off complaints. After hearing about every empty food station, every closed restaurant, every repulsive meal – it was students who decided to voice what everyone was thinking. Enough is enough.
It was time to have our say. Some students started petitions that garnered thousands of signatures. Others sent their complaints straight to President Bob Davies. Central Michigan Life also is a part of the conversation.
After we received the useless stack of documents that were supposed to be Chartwells’ contract with the university – we told you about it immediately. A few days later, the Student Government Association released a statement that echoed our concerns and frustration.
SGA’s statement can be summed up in three words, “transparency is paramount.” Unfortunately, throughout its 129-year history, CMU has never added those words to its mission statement. Maybe it's time we demand that they do. Maybe today, together, we can use our voices to improve this university for the next generation.
Throughout CMU's history, it's the students who have stepped up to address the university’s unwillingness to present the truth.
CM Life's most significant journalism project of the 60s was a collaborative effort with a former Vice President of the Student Body and a CMU football player.
Together, the students exposed off-campus housing discrimination by conducting a survey of 15 housing units. While the white student successfully applied to all 15, the Black student was denied by 10.
The story sparked outrage from the student body while hundreds marched through Mount Pleasant.
Of course, the university's official response at the time was that there “wasn't any problem here and someone is just trying to start one."
That's one of the first times CM Life worked with SGA. It was a landmark project - but it wasn't the only one.
For decades after, we fought for a transparent university. Through the years we’ve paid thousands of dollars for Freedom of Information Act requests. SGA President Jake Hendricks recognized the problem. He worked with 2020 Editor-in-Chief Dylan Goetz to push legislation that would eliminate fees associated with FOIA requests for all students.
That year we finally got the email we’ve been waiting on. According to the General Counsel's office, no student will ever have to pay to obtain records again.
Both these instances tell the same story. When students work together, change can happen. We're seeing it happen right now.
We’re happy to report CM Life received the unredacted Chartwells contract. We’re finishing up putting stories together at this moment.
Thank you to SGA, the petitioners and every other student on campus who helped put pressure on administrators and made that possible.
If you want to be part of a student movement to change this university for the better there is always room for another voice. Join an RSO. Join the Student Government Association. Join Student Media and help us fight to get the answers to your questions.
We are not just a number. We decide how this university should be run. Together, our voice can be so loud it's impossible to ignore.
So, what should we address next? Consider writing a letter to the editor to tell us. This is an opinion piece about anything you wish to discuss on campus. Include your name, affiliation, and phone number so we can contact you if needed. Email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and allow up to five days for a response.