Lewis & Clark students gathered the night of Feb. 15 to move a bus stop back to its home on S Palatine Hill Road between the undergraduate and graduate campuses. Some critics of the event on Instagram have claimed LC students have never mobilized more quickly over an issue. While there are critiques of the event, I want to focus on our potential as a student body.
This event is proof that LC students can enact change and unite together. What gives me goose bumps is that the administration of our community gave in. Robin Holmes-Sullivan, vice president of student life and dean of students, held a forum on Feb. 18 in J.R. Howard Hall in which students and Holmes-Sullivan discussed alternative solutions and a more communicative administration. We did not want a meeting held for a small percentage of our population: We wanted change.
Change does not have to be surrounded by suffering and struggle. As the theme for the 2021 Ray Warren Symposium, now is the time for joy and justice. The bus stop action was a great start, and now is the time to continue. We have the power to make rebellion a pastime. Instagram and Snapchat stories documented LC students coming together. Why should we limit ourselves? It is time to make it to The Oregonian. It is time to see workers at Fields Dining Hall paid well. There is no reason to stop short of what could happen at LC right now.
I am ready to see die-ins, where participants simulate being dead, and other forms of protest so that, at the bare minimum, 1% of LC’s income will be donated to tribes affected by our continued occupation of their land. With the revelry seen on the night of the bus stop action, I would say there is great opportunity to mobilize for larger goals like this.
I am a white, male-raised student from Georgia. By no means am I an authority on this event or what issues future activism should focus on. However, I do see this as an opportunity for us as a student body to enact changes.
The critiques surrounding the event are obscuring us from real work. To many, this event highlights how, if the bus stop protesters had not been a group of majority white students, authorities would have been called and violence would have occured. This was not a movement, but rather a party, an opportunity for revelry, debauchery and drunkenness. In as many words as I can put it, this was white privilege manifest.
On the other side of this, the bus stop was a hub for international students. For a group that often remains on campus when many leave, the bus stop acted as a watercooler. Those who are angry that people came together to save a “smoke spot” fail to understand the significance of the spot.
These critiques are valid from both sides, but we can not limit ourselves to simply identifying problems. We need to recognize this as a solution. This is not an event to fracture our community, this is a jumping off point to make future York and Sacagawea College a better place for all, and become a model for other colleges to follow.
Or, we could forget this even happened. We could go back to class like we are powerless, like students are not the majority at this institution. We can dissipate only to unite again if the water tower is removed.