Flames of the Torch

The power of student voices on their own campuses are greatly underestimated; too many believe that one voice cannot make a difference.

But what happens when people with common interests come together to work toward bettering the community as a whole?

Students at the University of Missouri bore witness to the power of their own voices this week. Protests over racial tensions, including a weeklong hunger strike by one student, led to the resignation of the university’s president and chancellor on Monday.

Discriminatory actions and speech have afflicted the university this year, including racially-charged slurs shouted at the student body president and a Swastika drawn in feces on a residence hall.

The response of the university, or lack thereof, led to escalating frustration among students. The administrators’ inaction effectively allowed the tensions to grow and breed feelings of intolerance throughout the campus community.

A series of protests by students beginning in early September began to spark the movement for change on campus.

Protests have picked up in the last week, furthering the pressures being placed on the administration.

Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at the school, even went as far as going on a hunger strike until the president announced his resignation.

But it was the university’s football team that is believed to have applied the greatest deal of pressure onto the situation. The university’s football team is one of the best in the nation. Without games, the school would lose up to one million dollars.

Last weekend they announced, with the support of the coaching staff and athletic director, plans to refuse to play another game until the president resigned from his post.

On Sunday, President Tim Wolfe stood strong, issuing a statement saying the administration “has been meeting around the clock,” to find a solution. But the next day, Wolfe did an about-face and announced his resignation.

History will show it was the student body that forced the administration to finally confront the issue and make changes that would improve the educational environment and safety of the university’s students. Here at St. John’s, we pride ourselves on being one of the top, most diverse private universities in the country.

Students have been willing to express their feelings on hot-button societal issues. In the past, there have been “Black Lives Matter” protests on campus.

For years, students also advocated for the institution of a group dedicated to the LGBTQ community, which led to Spectrum.

As the youth of an ever-growing nation, we must always remember we have the tools to create change right at our fingertips. Social media has become a powerful tool in student advocacy, as seen during the protests in Missouri.

The student group, ConcernedStudent1950 utilized Twitter to dispense information regarding the situation on campus. They also used it as a call for action among students.

Our ability to be heard through this platform is one of our greatest assets. Not only does this allow us to reach our fellow students, but it also provides us with the ability to be heard by a much broader audience, both domestically and internationally.

University students have the power to mobilize and create change through our first amendment right to free speech. While gaining traction can be difficult, it is nowhere near impossible. It only takes one voice to spark change.

We commend the students of Missouri for their passion and dedication to creating an accepting environment for the entire community. Not only have they shown a great deal of resiliency in the face of an inactive administration, but they have also displayed the power and ability of students.