Though I was not able to participate physically in the senior streak, as I was traveling home that day, I feel as though I participated in conversation with my fellow students. As a student who feels as though I am fairly active on campus I think the streak happened for several reasons and I think that this sort of student motivation needs to continue.
Arguing about the tactics employed by this event were positive or negative to gain the administration’s attention seems to divert a more important conversation. Instead of talking about the event itself, I propose to talk about the campus climate that has lead up to this action.
Full disclosure: I am in no way talking for a specific movement on campus, I also am in no way involved or even fully knowledgeable about all movements on campus. I do feel like I have a general understanding of many issues. I am speaking as a concerned student.
To me, for the past two years at least, important student concerns have been raised to the administration and they have been dealt with using various forms of suppression. The fact that the SSA even received a “no” was incredibly surprising to me. I’m used to a standard interaction with the administration. This is where:
1. An issue arises
2. A burst of passion from a large amount of the student body
3. A task force is created
4. Student passion lessens and then viola! Problem solved without having to do any challenging work or creating any effective positive change.
This culture of anger and apathy among students has to stop if we want to see any improvement in the issues we, as students, have raised. That said, the administration’s response to these bursts are deplorable. The phrase “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” comes to mind. The university seems to have fooled us again and again and now, a large group of students are finally realizing it. Thus a large number of students have a burst of anger – and rightfully so. We should be angry. We should be holding the university accountable – this is what our university is all about – but we should have been doing this earlier and with more intentionality. For example, I have been gathering information on our sexual assault and reporting policy for over a year now, in doing this research and in advocating for change I have found a small group of students passionate about this issue. However, I just recently discovered another group of students that I have been completely blind to that were doing the same work as I was.
If we continue with these bursts of anger, then we continue this cycle of suppression that the administration can so easily dismiss. If we don’t organize effectively placing pressure on the administration continuously then no change occurs. If we don’t see the links between sexual assault policy/mandatory reporting and the lack of resources for students with disabilities and lack of funding for CAPS and the Multicultural Programming Fund being on the chopping block and contingent faculty unionizing and divestment and everything else then we are doing a great disservice to the education we have received from this university.
Making those connections, effectively organizing, and continuous pressure on the administration is powerful. The senior streak that occurred should be used as a way to start making these connections, meet the people involved in all of these separate student movements, and also show the university that we are, in fact, acting in solidarity and going to continue to act in solidarity with each other.
I am very proud of my student body, I want to continue to be proud of us, we want the same things. The student body and the administration want to abide by our mission: dedication “to educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world”. This means that the administration needs to hold us accountable and we need to hold them accountable. And yes, a lot of times, the university has failed to live up to its mission – that is exactly why we are here. That is exactly why the senior streak happened. And that is exactly why we need to continue to pressure the administration.
We also need to promise to live up to our own standards. We need to start creating a student culture that does the same. We need to educate ourselves on our own perpetuation of rape culture, about ableist language, about micro-aggressions, about safety responses. We need to create a student culture we want to be in and sometimes we shouldn’t rely on the administration to merely give it to us. The education that I have received has given me the tools to educate myself as well as the tools to keep the university accountable. Lets start using our education to pressure the university and the student culture we obviously deeply care about into the best possible university and student culture we could be a part of.
¬–Kristen Wieliczka, Junior Political Science and Gender Studies Major