Flames of the Torch

This week, we reported on a petition to make St. John’s a sanctuary campus. The petition

asks the University to take steps to protect undocumented students, faculty and staff in light of president-elect Donald Trump’s proposal to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, established by the Obama administration. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the program allows individuals who came to the U.S. as children who meet certain criteria to “request consideration of deferred action for…a period of two years, subject to renewal” and allows eligibility for employment authorization.

In 2016 alone, the University saw several petitions circulate throughout campus. In January, a petition was started to keep foreign language requirements within the University’s new proposed core curriculum. In April, the removal of a ceremony for physician assistant students was the subject of a new petition which garnered over 2,000 signatures. Students of Consciousness also presented a list of demands to the University at the beginning of the 2016 spring semester. We’ve had the privilege of reporting on all of these situations.

And now, the sanctuary petition exists.

Throughout the past few months, we’ve seen thousands of students come together to support various causes through petitioning the school.

We at the Torch respect and support the spirit, drive and passion that made these petitions possible. Although we will not take a stance on the goals of any of them, we do support the students’ right to call for change they believe should occur. There is always room for improvement, and movements like these call attention to that.

The Torch’s editorial board strongly believes that these movements are a valuable part of our institution, and encourage our fellow students to follow suit to express their beliefs in concise, respectful ways.

In the past, we have written editorials supporting free speech, freedom of the press and the right to protest. Petitions fall under this category. At St. John’s, numerous students and faculty have taken part in these appeals for change–which is something we’re happy to see.

On college campuses, free speech is vital. Whether one is expressing views verbally or through writing, students need to make their voices heard. Having faculty encouragement only enhances this.

Through the use of petitions, we have seen several valuable conversations and reforms begin on campus; from racial tensions to the importance of language, the topics have been diverse. These petitions have also led to education, on the part of both faculty and students. On top of this, we at the Torch have had the opportunity to report on these petitions, and shine light on various occurrences at St. John’s.