More students should take a stand on campus.

Over spring break, I took a trip to Seattle, Washington. It was my first time there. I found myself roaming the streets of a new place, walking into storefronts, wiping the dust off hardcovers in small bookstores, and living elsewhere for a bit. I always find that when I am away from Athens, I return with new eyes, new ears and a new sense of heart. This time was no different. But there is something that I desperately need to say.

We need more from you. All of you. I know that seems like a lot to ask, but I am tired of holding it in. Earlier this semester, Vice President of Student Senate Caitlyn McDaniel wrote a letter to The Post expressing much of her concerns about student government, Ohio University administration and the student body itself. The prominent word that she used was “disappointed.”

I am disappointed as well. My mind, body and soul is tired. I’ve seen the lingering glances I get when I defend the “Blood Bucket Challenge” last semester that honestly made me question whether or not my peers understood the notion of free speech. I’ve seen the passive jabs at Student Senate for being “too radical” or “upfront” when we decide to attack issues. I’ve sat in offices with administrators and asked for them to advocate on students’ behalf on issues like tuition raises. They have returned these requests with illusiveness.

I’ve seen conservative members of the student body and Student Senate refuse to challenge the status quo, like members of OU’s Board of Trustees or the administration. I’ve seen racist posts on social media. One post on Yik Yak said that black people should stop complaining if we don’t want to be sent back to our country. I’ve seen my peers respond to pressing social injustices with apathy and continued inaction.

You don’t have to do these things. You don’t have to adhere to social norms, always avoiding any sort of confrontation for the sake of keeping the peace. You don’t have to stay quiet. You can attend the rallies and grab the megaphone too. You can sit in on meetings, stand in front of crowds, raise your hand in class and call society on its bullsh-t.

When people tell you otherwise, when they say that you are unwise, idealistic, too young, too radical, too passionate or headstrong, tell them that this unwillingness to sit by and hand over your power is exactly what we need. Tell them about the civil rights protesters in the 1960s that were hosed down and torn apart by dogs. Tell them about the protesters in Hong Kong last year holding umbrellas to shield their bodies from the tear gas shot at them as they fought for their democracy. Tell them about the Newark Student Union who, on February 17, walked out of a board of trustees meeting and occupied their school district’s superintendent’s office to demand an end to her callous and ignorant decision making. Tell them about my mother being bussed to predominantly white high schools in the 1970s and dehumanized by her peers because she was an immigrant. Tell them about the power I felt when I marched through the streets of Athens during #HANDSUPWALKOUT. I am still fighting to feel that power again today.

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I say this because I know that I will go on with my fight toward justice and living with meaning outside of the accepted normal. I will continue to have pride in those around me who do not call for civility or walk away from an uncomfortable conversation that could lead to progress. I will continue to believe that being involved in politics is not about leaving my morality at the door, or about bureaucracy or respectability, but about using my morality to guide me through the institutional cesspool that we all wade in.

In order for our lives to really change, I need you at the rallies, at the teach-ins, at the marches and all the meetings that make these things happen. I need you to be fearless. Grab the megaphone and join us.

Ryant Taylor is a senior studying English, a coordinator for the Ohio University Student Union, LGBTQA commissioner for Student Senate and an activist on campus. Email him at rt923710@ohio.edu.

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