Students need to join together for on-campus change

By Editorial Board

Members of the Columbia community have formed a coalition to voice frustration with the administration’s actions and bring about change at the college.

The college’s part-time faculty union and some students have created a group named OurColumbia to protest rising tuition, cuts to student resources and continual departmental changes, as reported Nov. 6 by The Chronicle. 

At the coalition’s Nov. 10 meeting, members plotted a strategy for voicing grievances that could include staging a walk-out and picket protest later this semester. 

For the students who invest thousands of dollars for a meaningful education and for faculty who have been dedicated to Columbia for years, fighting to have a say in the college’s direction is vital. However, students cannot hope for Columbia to change if they sit on the sidelines complaining.

Students see the dwindling number of courses offered when they register each semester, the packed rooms as class sizes increase and the swelling tuition rates they will be burdened with for years. Many feel powerless because they fail to see the influence they can exert through collective action. Still others seem unaware or indifferent to the changes around them, or they see them as isolated instances rather than systemic and pervasive.

While the administration is to blame for these conditions, most students are guilty of acquiescence. Students should not let these actions go unchallenged. The Chronicle attends many college meetings and forums open to students and can attest that student attendance is abysmal.

OurColumbia cannot succeed in making the administration more responsive to student and faculty needs without students playing an active role in the organization. For a walk-out to be effective, it must include students as well as adjuncts, who otherwise will be viewed as putting their own interests above those they teach. 

If students protest in significant numbers, it will be clear that they are stakeholders in the college’s decision-making and want their voices to be heard. The school is far more likely to be responsive to the people whose tuition pays their salaries than to a part-time workforce.

For the campus community to join together, the student body must realize the deficiencies in their education are not simply isolated inconveniences in certain departments but part of a campus-wide problem that needs the power of numbers to make a substantial change.

Students are well-situated to spark this push for progress. With social media at their disposal, students can become disrupters and informers invested in the community much more easily than previous generations of Columbia students. Facebook pages created for each graduating class can become campus strongholds to organize.

Instead of tolerating the devaluing of their education, students should lift their heads, raise their voices and demand a better Columbia.