This is an opinion article by Laura Wilson. The Pilot welcomes letters to the editor and opinion articles from the whole community. Please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principia College is a fascinating environment. We have a campus that is filled with individuals who are passionate and involved in something they love, whether it be academics, athletics, theatre, social movements, breaking down barriers or challenging the status quo. We are a community of young adults who all have an interest in something.
And yet, there is a distinct lack of civic engagement on campus. No self-nomination letters were submitted for the Student Senate race, so the deadline was extended to midnight Wednesday. I get it: we are busy. But, if there’s something you see in your Principia environment that needs changing, recognize your opportunity to drive that change.
This semester is a fantastic example of the energy and conviction students on our campus possess. When a group of dedicated, compassionate and powerful students came together to highlight the issue of sexual assault on campus with a blizzard of protest signs, the whole community heard them.
Their investment in the problem brought our campus to a standstill, and our administration responded whole-heartedly to the situation. We saw open forums appear out of thin air, standing room only town halls created within hours, classrooms stop and open a space for conversation, and professors, RCEs, and coaches all open their eyes and ears to the needs of the campus.
The changes we have seen on our campus since the sexual assault silent protest of February 27 have been massive. Within a week, we had promises that locks would be installed on all active dormitory doors over summer break.
Our campus culture began to shift into one that encouraged and instigated conversations about sexual assault and prevention in the future. Our students became more aware of one another, more aware of the community we live in.
But none of these things could have happened on a campus of disengaged, self-invested people. Our Principia community is characterized by individuals who lift the standard of what it means to be a young adult.
So, what is stopping this dedicated, capable group of people from offering their time and energy to Student Government? Like all other facets of our community, Student Government is yet another opportunity for our students to engage with the campus and create meaningful change for others.
In my senior year of college, senate has provided me with the avenues I needed to take my college experience and produce something meaningful from it. As a freshman, I could identify parts of our college that I would enhance, if given the chance, but I had no real comprehension of how to make that happen or how to ensure that it would be valuable.
By the time I had reached senior year, Principia had become a family for me that I wanted to give time to, each week, to work on improving the experience of those who would follow. I worked predominately with Dining Services and Sustainability during my time on senate. What does this look like?
Well, for example, over the course of one semester, we wiped all single-use plastic water bottles from the Scramble Room and replaced them with aluminum alternatives. We sourced pre-made salads for students to take with them as a healthy alternative on the go. We developed salad inspiration menus for our salad bar, to help students know which of the fresh ingredients would go best together. We brought in strawberry-peanut butter Uncrustables, along with veggie snack trays. We created a weekly pop-up dinner menu item (with a vegan option!) which offered a unique alternative for students to try out, such as a cheese platter, potsticker plate, chocolate berry fruit cup, potato skins with melted cheese, and frozen drinks.
Could these changes and improvements have occurred without a student representative? Perhaps, but not as seamlessly, and quite possible with less student input. The people who work in Dining Services already have full-time jobs, without investing more time into taking feedback, sourcing new food options, and changing up the experience. By having a senator, we create a chance for Dining to continue to move forward and stay up to date with what the students want.
Dining Services is a microcosm of our community. Every department has pieces that can be tweaked or exchanged for something better, and our Student Government senators are the right people for that job. To keep our campus progressing, we need students to remain connected and involved during this unprecedented pandemic. If there was ever a time to step up and take initiative, this is it.
Serving on Student Government will give you opportunities to learn, connect and build a legacy, but it ultimately does not exist to give you opportunities. It exists to allow you to offer other people opportunities.
So, in a time of global crisis, what better way is there to show your solidarity WITH/to our community than to stand up, and put yourself out there to run for our Student Government?
Self-nomination letters for Student Senate are due to Student Body President Sophia Hathaway by midnight, Wednesday.
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.