Read Our Lips: No New Tactics

If one were to take a walk around UVM, one would notice a silence that overwhelms the campus. No, it’s not the cold weather making the campus feel abandoned; it’s the lack of voices speaking out for and against campus issues. The lack of discussion and debate on this campus currently disturbs me. Have people lost the ability to form opinions? I don’t think that’s it. People are afraid to speak their opinions, which is even worse. Has anyone been paying attention lately? Major changes are being incorporated into this school, and no one’s making a peep about them. Did I miss something? Has this suddenly become Middlebury, where most students are complacent and afraid to speak their minds? This is not the UVM way. There are a few key silences that really upset me in our attempts to be an overly “PC” campus. One is from the political right. While I do not happen to agree with the right on most issues, they have suddenly fallen silent. No students should feel that their opinions don’t matter, because even though the right is probably a minority on this campus, it’s made of more than just one person. The other voice silenced is from the SGA, the organization that is supposed to respond to the administration’s doings and speak for the campus. As far as I can see, they’re not speaking to anyone about what we students want. If they are speaking to anyone, they haven’t asked students what they feel should be said, so how could they know? And it’s not like people around here are offering them their opinions. Come on here, guys. College is one of the few times in our lives that we can speak about anything and everything, largely without worrying about the consequences. You cannot get fired from college for speaking out against a company. You cannot get the collegiate boot for vocalizing your disapproval, however great or small, for the war. So why has everyone elected not to use his or her first amendment rights? I think our administration at both our University and our nation has something to do with it. Major changes like the implementation of an Honors College and proposed increased fees for all students have come to be without a peep from anyone, because the administration hasn’t allowed students to voice their opinions. These coffee chats with Fogel are not the best idea when they’re held at either 8 a.m. Friday mornings or during the time when students have class. Why not hold some panel discussions at Ira Allen, presenting the plans and allowing students to speak out in favor or against them? It’s our money, and we’re more than capable of providing good criticism as well as praise for their plans. On the national level, some polls have shown that there is not overwhelming support for this impending war with Iraq, yet there is only a small minority of Americans speaking out against it. How come the French can beat us to the punch? Our first amendment rights, some of our most valuable rights, are being underused. Who are you waiting for to speak your opinion, the SGA? Don’t hold your breath. It’s ridiculous to think they know what every student wants on this campus, so why let them guess? You need to come out and speak up. Don’t worry that your opinion might offend someone. If you’re part of a group and you don’t like what’s happening, speak out. People must understand that individuals do not necessarily represent the organizations they belong to, but that they speak for themselves unless they specifically say they are speaking on behalf of their organizations in full. Our nation was built on and thrives on free speech, protest and speaking out to get want you want. If our forefathers had been worried about offending the British, then who knows where this country would be? We all know that women who ran the equal rights movement, along with outstanding individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, weren’t afraid to speak their minds. And as Ludwig Borne once said, “Only the suppressed word is dangerous.” Don’t allow others to speak for you. We’re all intelligent college students who have educated opinions. Why not voice them?