At UConn, and around the country, politics are polarizing, an environmental apocalypse is on the horizon and it’s becoming increasingly easy for students to become disillusioned and disengaged. But despite the forces working against engaged young people, UConn students made their voices heard this year.
It is fitting that this year’s university-sponsored Metanoia was “Youth for Change.” Students understand that decisions made now will affect them for years to come. We are not allowing ourselves to be shut out of decision making processes any longer. This year, student groups across UConn have spoken up and inspired real change across the campus and beyond.
Mental health services are often criminally underfunded and overlooked. This year, students at UConn decided they’d had enough. Counseling and Mental Health Services, long bemoaned for its lack of services, has been unable for years to match the demand on campus. so students petitioned, organized and took to Fairfield Way to protest.
When SUBOG announced Lil Baby and Sean Kingston as headliners for UConnic 2019, most people grumbled about the concert’s lack of star power. But not senior Kailey Townsend, who sent a sharply written letter to the editor denouncing Sean Kingston for his out of court settlement for a 2010 rape charge. Along with student groups like Revolution Against Rape, students made their voices heard by organizing and protesting. Sean Kingston’s performance was cancelled.
In the Fall semester, student leaders kicked up a fuss over issues with bus lines and parking shortages. Due to a tsunami of student outrage, the administration hosted multiple public forums. Transportation Services was forced to update the bus lines.
When the “Campus Clash” tour visited UConn this spring, some students were ecstatic — and many were outraged. And so they made their outrage known, through meetings, speak-outs and Op-eds. Crucially, they respected Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens’ right to voice their opinions, too.
Student’s used rallies and protests to make their voices heard on national and international issues as well, from the central american immigration crisis to Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation hearing.
UConn students turned out in droves for the 2018 midterm elections. Here, we made our voices heard at the ballot box, with the highest midterm turnout in years.
The Daily Campus has done its part to amplify student voices and provide a platform for concerns. In February, staff writer Gabriella DeBenedictis reported on LAZ Parking’s disastrous management of Storrs Center. Her story was shared on social media over four thousand times and led to multiple Mansfield town council meetings on the subject.
The Editorial Board has published multiple important editorials this year — on topics from UConn’s athletic department woes to electric buses — which have sparked serious conversation and debate on campus.
Countless other events displayed the passion and strength of the UConn student body — like the annual “Take back the night” march around campus, which elevated the voices of victim-survivors of sexual violence.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed as a young adult. But it is important to remember how powerful our words and actions are. Our opinions do matter. We must use our voices frequently, passionately and thoughtfully.
To the graduating seniors: You have power. You see the world from important, diverse perspectives. You have the energy to galvanize others. You just need to speak up, speak out and make yourselves heard.
Good luck in your next adventure. Don’t forget about the voice that you learned to use these past four years.