By THE HERALD Editorial Staff
Politics has gotten so bad, we sometimes want to pull the sheets over our heads and wish the world away. The problem is our apathy is exactly what politicians want. They want us disgusted with politics so we won’t stand up and fight back.
We want you to know that you do have a voice, and that you should not stay silent. We want you to know that Harold Washington College is the ideal place for protest and student activism. It is the place for you to make your voice heard.
Consider that your school is right next to every major Chicago news outlet, and only a few blocks away from both Trump Tower and City Hall. Our proximity to the people in power gives your voice special potency. Protests make the news, and they make the downtown leadership hear diverse voices.
Through diversity comes strength, and Harold Washington College is certainly one of the most diverse. With over 5,000 students from every corner of the city, our school is a perfect cross-section of Chicago and America. That diversity means our students can learn from each other, share ideas, gain a stronger understanding of our modern world, and ultimately support one another.
We can also learn from student activists elsewhere about the power of protest and the achievements of progress.
Precedents have long been set by dissenting students, organizing in great numbers around a common goal and achieving a great deal. We all know about protests in the 1960s that changed the American political structure drastically–protests for civil rights, the ERA and women’s rights, and against the war in Vietnam.
Around the world, and even in pockets of our country, student activism is alive and well. From the progressives to the “alt-right,” University of California–Berkeley students have organized powerful protests this year, reacting to the political climate, around issues like the Donald Trump presidency, the presence of extremist right-wingers on campuses, and police brutality.
In Indian-controlled Kashmiri, female students have led anti-India protests around their own struggles with police and military brutality. In February of this year, thousands of high school students in Paris took to the streets in protest of the rape of a young black man by police. In Tanzania, students initiated a left-wing revolution that brought socialism and women’s rights to a country that had long been under authoritarian rule.
National politics may have the most attention-grabbing headlines, but your local government’s effect on your daily life in enormous.
Back here in Illinois, faculty and students took buses to Springfield in April and protested outside the state capitol, demanding an end to the budget stalemate that has siphoned millions in funding from the public universities, including the City Colleges of Chicago.
Just last month, City Colleges’ credit rating was lowered because of the budget crisis to near “junk status,” meaning we will pay more money for loans and investments in our school. The budget crisis has also robbed our school of $70 million in state funding, money originally allocated to us, and taken from our own tax dollars.
We can also participate in City Colleges’ board meetings and express our frustrations with an administrative office that has made decisions without student and faculty approval. The City Colleges are going through enormous changes right now, and a vocal student body would improve our chances of keeping the services and resources we care about.
The harder we make it for leadership to take away our rights to an affordable and accessible education, the greater our chances for success. We can learn from the precedents set by the past, and we can foster a future of progress, garnered by active participation