EDITORIAL: New year of conversations

CM Life's New Year's resolution: Have difficult conversations

A person stands at a podium established by a group of Central Michigan University student protesters of the Vietnam War after the student deaths at Kent State University in May, 1970. Photo from the 1970 "Chippewa," a CMU yearbook titled "The American College Cry... I've Gotta be Me."

As the clock ticks down and the people on T.V. in New York look more inebriated, you may be thinking about making a New Year’s resolution a reality.As we approach the New Year, consider what a meaningful goal looks like for your work, school and personal life.

At Central Michigan Life, it has long been our goal to be the voice of students, faculty and staff at Central Michigan University. Our goal for the coming year: Have difficult conversations, and encourage others to do the same. 

College campuses are made interesting by the people that are on them. The experience, knowledge and expertise make for powerful centers of learning and growth. 

Think about how much learning happens outside of the classroom: students learn from talking with peers and engaging with each other. 

But what about relevance?

Every day we are bombarded with information. We learn about the war between Israel and Hamas; we hear about the genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the civil war in Sudan; the Russian full-scale invasion and war in Ukraine. The list goes on.

As students who are also considering things like deadlines, social survival and shifting identities, this can be too much. 

The right thing to do usually isn’t the easy thing, especially when the right thing to do is care. 

CMU has a history of being an active campus, filled with students who care, especially during the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. 

Dennis Adams was an editor for CM Life in 1969 and an activist on campus opposing the Vietnam war. 

He recalled a candlelight vigil with several thousand students and community members setting the tone for Mount Pleasant, along with student protests in and around the former Reserve Officers’ Training Corps building.

“It was ... the largest organization of protesters in this area’s history for sure,” Adams said. “You could look out of Warriner Hall down University Street and there were people filling the street with candles lit as far as you can see.” 

Their goal, he said, was to force a response from the university. 

“One of the things we wanted was the university to come out in opposition to the Vietnam war, which (then-President) William Boyd … did do after all these events had occurred,” Adams said.

But it wouldn’t have happened if students hadn’t started the conversation. 

“It was a tumultuous time on campus,” Adams said. “It was sit-ins and building takeovers and students working very hard. 

“The student body is the empowered group on campus, and the failure for students to recognize the power they hold has always been a problem.” 

He pointed out a pattern in global conflicts throughout history that can be seen in the behavior of the United States in Vietnam. 

“We just dug ourselves into this quagmire that always happens when you go in and try to displace Indigenous peoples,” Adams said. “And that can be applied to… our interaction with Native Americans, to what we tried to do to the Vietnamese, to what the Russians are doing to the Ukranians, and unfortunately what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians.” 

There are a lot of prompts for difficult conversations. International conflicts that cost people around the world their lives cannot be ignored. 

The struggles of people in our own community to escape violence, insecurity and poverty cannot be ignored.

The needs of the student body as people deserving to be respected cannot be ignored. 

It all starts with a difficult conversation. 

To the students of CMU: remember the change you can make. Our campus has long been a beacon of activism and change. 

And it is just that: our campus.