Freshman Year 101—Campus Activism

 

This past Monday, 27 staff and faculty were laid off at West Virginia Wesleyan College due to budget cuts. In a campus community as close-knit as Wesleyan, every faculty and staff members feel like family. As such, students and faculty alike were appalled at the way the situation was handled.

And then we did something about it.

An emergency faculty meeting was held Tuesday morning, and the faculty and staff were able to ask the college president questions about the lay-offs.

A sit-in at the Administration Building started Wednesday morning and lasted until 4:30 p.m. when the building closed. Approximately 100 people attended throughout the day.

A town hall meeting with Dr. Thierstein was arranged for Wednesday evening so students could voice their concerns and ask their questions. I don’t have an exact number, but I would estimate over 200 people were in attendance. For nearly three and half hours, students took turns at the microphones, demanding answers and venting frustrations.

Many of the individuals who took to the mics to speak were freshmen, and many more first-year students sat in the audience. And that was amazing.

You, my incredible freshpeople, who have been here at Wesleyan for less than a semester—just over two full months—set aside your textbooks and your Netflix to sit in the chapel for three and half hours and passionately defend this institution and what you believe it stands for.

We were not permitted to applaud during the meeting, but I am applauding you now.

It is immensely important for freshmen to show up—not only on social media, but in person—when incidents like Monday’s lay-offs occur. For seniors like me, our ability to shape the school is coming to an end.

But you are just at the start of your four-year journey. Over the next four years, it is your job to push for changes when things aren’t working and speak up when the change happening isn’t for the better. It is your job to never let the people in power forget that this is your college, too.

Arrange sit-ins and town halls. Arrange peaceful protests and vigils. Email the president and the administration. Call their office phones until the voicemails are full. Visit the president and other administration members in person. Do what needs to be done to keep Wesleyan feeling like home.

Based on the turnout last night, I know I am leaving my college in good hands. Make us proud, Bobcats.