Like with any school semester, students have been completing schoolwork, participating in extracurricular activities and trying to deal with the issues on SFA campus. In the past, it has been easy to forget we have a voice when it comes to issues that concern us. However, this semester has been different; there has been a light for students in the inconsistencies and injustices prevalent on campus -- students who use their voice for good. Through petitions, protests and Instagram pages, students have advocated for change and brought hope to the SFA community. In semesters to come, we urge students to continue using their voice to incite change for SFA.
Parking on campus is a concern many students still speak up about. When in-person classes resumed Fall 2021, many students took note of how little parking there was for commuters on campus. Students began to take a stand using social media to air out their grievances with the parking situation. The outrage from students resulted in SFA UPD making a statement on social media Aug. 27 acknowledging and rectifying the issue. Lot 52, Lot 61, and Parking Garage 3 were changed from resident-only parking to resident-commuter parking. It is safe to say this issue was only remedied as quickly as it was because students spoke up and took a stand.
On Oct. 23, several students created a petition regarding the quality and availability of food on campus. The petition made by students had a list of certain improvements SFA food services should consider. After the petition was presented to the Executive Director of Campus Dining Services Carrie Charley, ideas of change and better communication between staff and students were reinforced. The petition is positive proof that students do have a say on what can change on campus. However, there must be initiative action. Do not feel intimidated to see a problem and propose a change, even if the problem seems miniscule. This university is what the students make it, and you cannot make anything worthwhile without initiative.
By far, the most impactful petition created this year was the petition for budget transparency desired from SFA administration. This student-led petition, which earned the attention of outside news media, modeled exactly how powerful a student’s voice can be when advocating for change. Student initiatives brought President Scott Gordon’s inordinate raise to light. Student initiatives put pressure on administration until better lines of communication were not an option but a necessity from the Board of Regents and president. From an audit of the budget to the newly instated President’s Luncheon, the budget transparency petition brought change to campus.
However, after making such great strides toward their goal, students are wasting the opportunities these new initiatives provide. The last President’s Luncheon was only attended by two students. While the budget transparency petition was a milestone event in SFA history, it is being followed by student apathy that can’t lead to change. Students should take advantage of the communication that was not available before and enact the change they worked so hard to create.
Through the advocacy we’ve seen on campus, students have called attention to problems that would otherwise be disregarded and left for future Lumberjacks to deal with. As the semester comes to a close, many issues are still left unsolved; some just need that extra push for officials to take it seriously. Next semester, students need to continue giving voice to the calls to action still left unanswered and taking advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. We, the students, have the power to do so much if we only speak up.