As students, we expect a great deal from UConn, whether it’s sports, academics, research opportunities or any number of things that the community provides. But above all, I believe we hope for a university that understands and responds to the ideals of its students. A university is supposed to be a place for the next generation of students, where we value innovation and pushing the boundaries, not just of our specific academic fields but of society as well. So tell me, why is this university resisting the will of the students to do just that?
Climate change is the quintessential issue of our generation, and it will literally be the deciding factor of our lives and future on this planet. UConn is undoubtedly complicit in the environmental disaster that is coming, and despite the urging and the fighting from so many of its students, it continues to ignore its place in this issue. When I arrived on campus, I hoped for a university culture that would be a leading societal and environmental progress like what was advertised to me when I applied. Yet, as I learned more of the institutional harm perpetuated by an unresponsive and undemocratic President Maric and the Board of Trustees, I was shocked.
As a public university in Connecticut, whose government highly values being a leader in combating climate change, there should be nothing stopping us from taking action and fighting for a better future for all of us. Still, UConn is grossly inadequate in this area in terms of both the university’s greenwashing and hesitancy to commit to any substantive action. As a single student, my voice may mean very little, but I know that together we do have power and we can cause distinct institutional change for the betterment of our future. We collectively must hold the university to higher standards, and that is why I support the coalition of students, Fossil Fuel Free Uconn and their goals of making UConn decarbonize, disclose and divest from fossil fuels.
In all the aforementioned areas, the university continues to resist progress and the voices of the students who fight for it. This betrays all the ideals which UConn claims to support and foster in its students. How can we dream of changing the world when we can’t even make a change on our college campus? How can we develop and use our passion in an environment stifled by a bureaucracy that will not listen to us? We are meant to take pride in this community, but culture starts at the top just as much as it is built up from the bottom, and so long as the UConn administration holds itself and its students complicit in the coming climate crisis, there is no way for me to fully identify with this university.
My argument today is clearly not the in-depth exposé of all the dirty practices I have seen from UConn’s administration since stepping foot on campus for the first time; many writers have covered that in-depth and I would recommend everyone read the works of the Daily Campus Editorial Board on that matter. No, rather, my point is to show a bit more of why this matters, why I can’t stand it and why (hopefully) you shouldn’t either. As a student, as a writer
, and as a member of this generation, I believe that change is possible. Across the nation, groups of students at all types of schools have accomplished this goal and brought about major change to their communities, and this is possible right here at UConn through collective action. This is why I support FFFU: so that this school may change for the better, so that our hopes and goals do not have to be stopped short at the doors of the board of trustees and so that this school can rise to the demands of its students and reflect the values and ideals of a new generation that is willing to push the boundaries to protect the planet and our futures.
Tomas Hinckley is a first-semester political science student at the University of Connecticut and is also an Opinion Contributor for The Daily Campus.