The thought that has chased away the rare quiet moments in my days recently has been “acta non verba.” Acts, not words.
For the past four years, I have had the honor of listening to your stories. Not only have I been able to get to know you, but I’ve gotten to know a lot about this university and its history. More importantly, I have gotten familiar with some of UR’s truth. Here’s a truth most of you probably know:
The University will always want to speak, but very rarely will they act.
Every year, a graduating class leaves, and along with it, problems that plagued the University. It’s what UR banks on. How many current students on campus know of the Jaeger harassment case? The Public Safety gun protests? Who remembers the flags? Let bygones be bygones — or in the University’s case, let issues that were once pressing to the student body get shelved like a census in Rush Rhees.
That’s the playbook. If the University stays silent, the issue can burn out — and so they do. Administrators talk with the student body, hold town halls, and communicate with student leaders who push for answers. But eventually, student leaders graduate and the University is able to slither out of the spotlight without ever lifting a finger.
Here’s another truth I’ve observed — the University does not make you ‘ever better.’ In fact, it’s the other way around. You make it ever better. The students who innovate, create, stamp out awards and achievements, and strive towards progress are what make this university ever better. The faculty who discover and explore, who bring the future closer each day through ground-breaking research and growing the next generation, make it ever better. The staff who painstakingly grind and turn the gears every single day, which allows our campus to operate in the capacity it does, make it ever better. You bring the University value and add the dollar signs to the piece of paper they sell to thousands of families every year. Without you, this school is worthless.
The University is the epitome of acting only when push comes to shove — for example, they only hired an outside investigator in the Jaeger case once the story broke national news in 2017. You don’t need to make a splash where you end up on the tip of David Muir’s tongue. But, if you’re frustrated about an issue on campus, your best bet to get people talking is to cause a disruption in the regularly scheduled programming on campus.
When Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) set up their tents this April for a few days on Wilson Quad and slept outside to bring awareness to UR’s housing problem, did anyone else notice the whispers on campus from the ‘grown-ups?’ Housing is a problem UR is working on but it gets pushed to the front of the line. UR is prepared to defend itself when it gets challenged and they pull out its to-do list to show the class what’s been checked off.
If you really want to make change, just make it rain. The University will act if they have the green carrot. While this may be the most open secret on this campus, truly think about the consequences of this.
As long as they’re funded by alumni money, a non-denominational campus has agreed to allow two religious organizations to have their own buildings on campus. This action throws the University’s equity and inclusion policy into the trash — and tosses the housing crisis to the side. In addition, how are other students’ identities not being excluded when Hillel and the Newman Faith Chapel are the only groups that will be able to have buildings of their own? There’s no answer without a heavy dose of ignorance. Yet, the University will let this slide as long as the check clears.
We encourage students to be ever better here, and that is exactly what you should do. Make the world around you, ever better. Don’t just speak on how you will make the world ever better — do.