Sounding Off: On-campus advocacy is not easy, but it’s worth the work 

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Journalism and writing are two major ways to hold accountable those who have power. It’s often easier to be an activist when you can hide behind anonymity or distance, but tha doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to be active in person. Photo by Ashni on Unsplash.

To start off this article, I want to say that I’m writing this to hold myself more accountable, not to make any excuses. 

When I first started writing for the opinion section, I felt completely free to criticize any facet of the University of Connecticut. I vividly remember submitting my first article, a critique of UConn’s lack of communication on COVID-19 policy decision-making from back in August of 2020, from the comfort of my dad’s house. That was 100 miles from Storrs, and from that comfortable distance I proceeded to write an article a week, feeling very free to comment on whatever I chose to comment on, and always taking an outside-looking-in perspective. 

When I came back to Storrs for my junior year, I had recently joined the editorial board of The Daily Campus, and began getting paid more to write my column. The comfort of employment plus the anonymity of being able to write editorials without solely my name being attached created a situation where I felt like I could save all of my controversial takes for editorials, and print non-confrontational pieces under my name. While I really enjoyed writing “Daily Campus History,” the topics were not always as important to today’s society as some of my other articles have been. In the past semester, I’ve taken steps to move away from this comfort, shifting the focus on my column, and more recently, leaving the editorial board. 

It all comes back to confrontation. While very far away or using the shield of anonymity, if you offend someone, whether you intended to or not, there’s zero chance that you will have to see them in-person. On the other hand, if you publish something with your name on it that is designed to go out to the community you live in, and something you say isn’t popular, you have to deal with that face-to-face. In short, last year I felt as if I should probably pull my punches a bit, in order to be able to feel comfortable amongst my peers. That was wrong, and now I’m in a position of power in a trustee organization, so I plan on redeeming myself by using this platform to speak out on anything I feel is unjust here on campus. 

In person activism can be hard and scary, as there are potential consequences to face both personally and as a group. Despite this, standing up for justice and causes one believes in is one of the most important things to do. Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash.

Enough about me though. This article is half personal accountability statement and half call to action. This is the first year (hopefully) that UConn will be fully back on campus, and this community has a lot of issues to tackle. Whether you are brand new to UConn, you have a lot of influence or anywhere in between, we all should speak out about what matters to us. This especially goes for those of us in positions of privilege, as we owe it to those who might not be as free to speak their minds with relative safety. 

While taking action from afar is easier, there are still many ways to take action in-person, where the hardest step to take is the first. Writing for the DC is obviously a form of taking action I’ll advocate for, as it’s a niche that I’ve personally found to be good for me at UConn, but if that’s not for you, go to a protest! Or speak out at a meeting! 

Before closing out, one thing that’s incredibly important to acknowledge is that no one should pressure you to do more than you feel comfortable with. Taking action must come from a place of actually wanting to do the work, or else it’s just not genuine. I am personally at a place in my life where I want to do more, but if you’re not there, that’s fine. If you are not satisfied, however, let’s use this article as a springboard to motivate us to do more for our community! 

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