Not more than a generation ago, activism and protest were the quintessential tools used by college students across the country to speak their minds and achieve their goals.
What has happened to our generation? Granted, Iraq is no Vietnam, and the fire over civil rights issues has diminished to a smolder, but are students really completely satisfied with their situations? Judging by the numerous complaints I hear every day about parking, dining and the degree of softness of the toilet paper in Sue B., I would say that students today certainly do give a damn about improving their lives.
The difference lies in the fact that while these complaints are in most cases very relevant and worthy of attention, they remain simply complaints. Sure, every once in a while, a particularly motivated student will write to our beloved campus newspaper lambasting a certain issue and demanding an overhaul of the system – however, if you think anyone takes heed of an article in the CT then I have some magic beans to sell you. Last year, I got so annoyed with my roommate’s complaints about parking that I set his car on fire and dumped it in the mighty Genesee. Problem solved.
While grand larceny may not be the best answer, action on any level is certainly a step in the right direction. Unbeknownst to most UR students, there are actually many avenues and forums available to initiate exactly the kind of change which is craved.
For the first time in at least four years your student government has unified into a veritable fist of efficient activism aimed at making changes which benefit students on campus. Believe it or not, the Dean of the College and the Dean of Students actually want to make college life better for all of us. Shockingly enough, the administration has recently been acting as a valuable resource, and not a barricade, for positive change.
If you are steamed over the smoking policy, contact the Senate Projects committee and become an advocate for outdoor smoking lounges. If you have a problem with Residential Life, contact the Senate Services committee and get the resources and support to attack and fix it.
If you go through the right avenues, and gain students’ support, the powers that be will not only listen, but also make important changes. If they are willing to review and change the rules against our beloved game of Beirut, then anything can be accomplished. If you are upset over some aspect of campus, do something about it.
Taking action is not only your right, but your duty, and if this duty is neglected, someday it will be your car burned to cinders on the bottom of the river.
Voetsch can be reached at email@example.com.