The nation has seen momentous displays of student collective action in the past couple years and Colgate has finally caught up; over 200 students and community members participated in the national youth-led climate strike on September 20. While this is certainly a win for the national and community environmental movement, it is a much more significant win for the ability and willingness of this campus’ student body to stand in solidarity with each other.
The most remarkable example of student collective action in recent Colgate history is the petition to cancel school last year during a snowstorm that circulated around campus and received over 2,000 signatures just two hours after its creation. It sounds silly to take this petition too seriously, but I would argue it’s one of the most important things that has happened on campus since I’ve arrived. In less than two days, the petition exceeded the student body population on campus with over 3,000 signatures. If we can mobilize this fast for a day off school, what more can we accomplish?
Student protests around the nation have made waves and demanded important change. After the Parkland shooting, the student-organized March for Our Lives protests across the country were estimated to have had between 1.2 and 2 million participants. We live in what’s being recognized as the age of youth-organized activism. The world is acknowledging that young people not only care about current events but are angry, empowered, inspired and smart.
We have done some pretty amazing things in the past few years. A group of student activists organized a stunning peaceful protest to last year’s talk from Alan Dershowitz, asserting their commitment to survivors of sexual violence. Hundreds of community members stood in solidarity with nationwide protests in support of survivors during the Kavanaugh hearings in the Walk for the Truth. Students last year marched for voter participation and rights for the 2018 midterm elections. Colgate students represented our student body at the March for Our Lives protests in Washington D.C. in 2018. Annually students lap the school for survivors of sexual and domestic violence during Take Back the Night. To those listed, and those I’ve inevitably left out, I stand with the many who admire and respect your activism. Thank you for making something of this campus.
This student body has a lot to say and alumni donations are a force to be reckoned with. We may not have the means to donate money to catch the administration’s ear, but that doesn’t mean our voices can’t be heard; Make a scene. Empower each other with your passion and intensity — it’s infectious. And if you can’t bring yourself to support whatever cause is being advocated for, stand in solidarity with your community members—that alone is a cause within itself. Use and protect your right to loudly protest and dissent.