Volume 97 Issue 5 Oped

Change at Juniata

by Conor Dimond

Change is something inevitable, something that we all must strive to make the best of and continue to embrace. It is necessary that we keep moving rather than remain sedentary in our ideals and beliefs. In order to understand the world around us we need to learn from experience and critical thinking. These transformations along with acceptance and understanding are vital to the success of our Community.

Within the years that I have been at Juniata I have noticed the ever-growing anger and frustration that students have cultivated towards current events of injustice around the world. Some discussions have been held about their concerns, but it appears to me that this year Juniata students have decided that discussions are not enough, and have stood up to fight for the change they would like to see.

This semester students have been particularly invested in tackling social injustices and creating a space to have safe, open discussions. They have also been readily active in displaying their frustrations. The following are different events that have taken place within the semester: Making banners that state the importance of minority lives and a gathering discussing how we must strive to insure they receive equality. A forum was created on Facebook to have an open discussion about any issues, good or bad, which may be going on. A student even went as far as stealing a Confederate flag from a local’s home and burning it. In some of these ways, the amount of passion that our students have for change is unbelievable and seldom found, but in others the way that we as a community try to tackle specific issues needs to be solved in a more civil, respectful manner.

Juniata constantly boasts its motto “Think, Evolve, Act” as a way for its students to become successful. This motto can be directly carried over when sparking change throughout our community. It is vital that when a student or group of students is planning to tackle an important social issue that they first consider their audience.

The Huntingdon community is small, rural and very accustomed to tradition. We as students must understand that there is a certain type of respect that we owe to the members of Huntingdon and this respect must be carried over into any protests or movements for change. With this in mind we must consider the way that we go about evoking change. Protests often come off as being very harsh and in order to successfully relay our messages to the Huntingdon community we must do so in a more dialogue fashion. We need to strive to build stronger ties with the community while educating them and ourselves to become a welcoming town.

The same pertains to the Juniata community. Though protests may not always be well received by students they are sometimes a more effective way of evoking change on campus. In our closed and close-knit environment it is easier for us to quickly evolve to understand one another and to morph into a cooperative community. On campus, we hold discussions and different events to understand the things that are happening throughout the world. This gives our Juniata community a better understanding and more cultivated view towards worldly issues. This is extremely important to understand when addressing the Huntingdon community as a whole. The Huntingdon community may not be exposed to such a diverse environment on a day-to-day basis, and Juniata is far enough away for its diversity to only slightly affect the Huntingdon community. Even though we may be more diverse than the larger community, we students must strive to push even further. It is our job to do our best to rid our campus of micro aggressions and welcome people from all walks of life onto our campus.

Negative actions, such as the burning of the Confederate flag, only weaken our relationship to the Huntingdon community and the community’s acceptance of Juniata students. It is completely understandable to feel anger toward institutionalized racism, however not everyone sees the flag as such. I believe, that with this specific issue, this is where a lot of the current frustration and anger arises, but we, as Juniata students, must challenge ourselves to understand both interpretations.  The same applies to all problems that we try to resolve. As sad as it may be, at times, the Huntingdon community and the Juniata community must be seen as two different entities. Though we may share many common beliefs and morals the rate at which we are open to change can be extremely different.

The recent spark to promote change on campus and within the community is something exceptional. To have the will to go out and try to tackle social issues is of great magnitude and importance. The fact that our Campus is so passionate about changing things for the better shows just how great of a community Juniata has. Our Community has even gone as far as creating a Facebook page, as a safe environment, to discuss current events on campus. There have been problems with this however, and students have misinterpreted its intent. Some students had surmised that there were going to be protests against Sodexo when rather, students were doing research on the company and its ethics. Here again, we see the problem with not following our school motto and losing ourselves amongst rumors and false interpretations.

Think, Evolve, Act is a motto that has been established to our institution in order to insure the success of our students while attending Juniata and in their future endeavors. It is important that each and every student truly uses this motto as a guide in life, in order to insure that the decisions they make are made with the understanding of the differences of others. The recent excitement on campus is a good thing and shows growth for social acceptance. The actions that have been taken to show this growth however do not always help to keep the Huntingdon and Juniata communities in harmony. It is important that continue to challenge worldly injustices while understanding that the Huntingdon community will not progress at the same rate as Juniata.

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