It is common to hear student’s at PUC complaining about aspects of the institution. There is no issue in complaining and most of the opinions I hear are valid, but the problem is I only hear complaints spreading through the student body and no one taking action. There are two distinct types of complaints that envelop the social circles: students want unrealistic campus changes (e.g. dorms) or complaints regarding a system or policy in-place at PUC (e.g. curfew). I want to focus on the later of the two types because that is where the student body can actually take a stand and make a difference.
There are a limited amount of SA officer and student senator positions that are offered to the students and the amount of availabilities is disproportional to the amount of criticism that gets thrown around. However, there is a false sense among the student body that if one is not in a position of official student power, that they, in-turn, lack, “student power.” This is false and the idea that the student body itself contains immense amounts of systematic influence needs to be recognized and if needed, implemented and used. In my three years at PUC, I have not seen a well-executed example of a student demonstration taking an organized stand to protest a policy. The best I have seen is a Facebook post bashing on the cafeteria that gets over 80 likes. We can do better than that.
A recent event at Rutgers University sparked national attention when 50 students marched into the administration building and began a formal sit-in protest. Right away it attracted student attention and the mass grew so large that the campus police were forced to stop students from entering the building. This sounds a bit extreme so you must be thinking that it was in response to a terrible announcement that was going to ruin the student’s graduation plans. The reality is that the students were protesting the selection of former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, as the school’s graduation commencement speaker. After a few days of protesting and media attention, Condoleezza Rice withdrew from making the commencement speech. Students — 1, Rutgers — 0.
If a student group can unite and present their cause so well that it gains national attention, then imagine the intense message and pressure the school received. Rewind to the colloquy where Dr. Ben Carson addressed out student body and community. Before, during, and after his speech I was seeing multiple complaints raining down from Twitter and Facebook in regards to his strong political views and whether or not PUC was trying to promote a certain outlook. However, no form of action was taken.
I am not trying to encourage students to storm into any offices, get hundreds of signatures on petitions, and sit-out colloquies all because they want better cafeteria food. If you are a student that thinks that you can contribute to improving PUC, then run for student senate or SA office next year. We must always try and promote systematic change through official and appropriate channels first. When or if those channels fail, however, we as students need to remember that we have not even come close to reaching the limit of our influence and we mustn’t be afraid to stand up for our beliefs.