A couple of weeks ago, our Her Campus club set up a table on campus and asked students who passed by about something they wish they could change. We left the question broad—it could be as big or small as people wanted it to be. The goal with this project was to see how our fellow students would take the question. What do today’s college-aged-kids care about?
Some of the common areas people wanted change were:
A desire to be more socially active
The expense of college
Lack of environmental protection and care
Present school-related stresses (certain classes, work load, daily schedules, etc.)
Political change and the current presidency
The culture of social media and the validation people seek from it
Level of self-confidence
Price of travel
Distance from loved ones
And while these were all good, relatable and valid, a few particular changes people wished for caught my eye. I noticed an overwhelming amount of wishes to change stigmas, inequalities, and human action. This spoke volumes. Students wanted police brutality and racism in the justice system to be resolved. They wanted to release the stigmas of ableism, stay-at-home moms, mental health, feminists, and the LGBTQ+ community. Students wanted worldwide equality—no matter gender, sex, sexuality, race, age, or religion. It was refreshing to hear that fellow students are able to see beyond our small, safe campus and recognize there are immense struggles others deal with that need to be changed. And they need help to change.
Above, I was able to summarize answers together and give the general idea. Below are things students said that I simply couldn’t reword better.
“I wish I could change the stigmas around mental health and help everyone become an advocate for all well-being of all people.”
“I want to change how people take care of the planet. Imagine if everyone did simple things like picking up a piece of trash every time they went somewhere, the world would be a much better and cleaner place.”
“I wish I could slow down time.”
“I want it so no one can buy dogs, everyone has to adopt them.”
“I wish we didn’t all have phones.”
“We weren’t afraid to have more than surface level conversations with each other. We always have such baseline, bland conversations and are scared to really get to know someone.”
What I think people don’t realize is that they really do have the power to make these changes. Perhaps they simply don’t have the resources, don’t know where to start, or aren’t as committed as they let on. I wanted to challenge people to think about these topics because we often complain about things we have complete control over. We have the power to impact or create change, but sometimes we are simply too lazy to do so. Social change is created by being a model—push the social boundaries and be confident in it so that no one questions you. Political change is accessible by finding organizations with the same ideas as you. Speak up for what you believe in! Appropriation of rape culture and the use of plastic will only continue if people don’t start saying “Hey, that’s wrong, check yourself, my dude.”
Now, I understand that a lot of these can’t happen directly; you can’t solve world hunger or save the planet all on your own, but there are things you can do to motivate and influence others to be passionate about the same changes you wish to see. A lot of people simply aren’t aware of these things. For example, a friend told me about the problem with palm oil and that I should be avoiding products that include it. It’s bad for the earth, it’s wiping out animal populations and it’s bad for our bodies! And it’s not that I didn’t care before—it’s just that I was simply unaware. But now that I do know, I actively take action to read labels on the products I buy and avoid supporting palm oil production.
All of these changes are possible, it just depends on how much you’re willing to do to make them happen.
Pictures taken by Natalie Tyler Photography