You Want it, Change it: Student groups must take action if they want change

No Longer at Ease. In the sequel to Chinua Achebe's world renowned Things Fall Apart, the protagonist is struggling to find his niche in a world in which one group of people wants everything of and from him and the group with power wants no interaction other than that which is absolutely necessary.

In a more contemporary and literal sense, the term could be applied to any person unwilling to accept conditions as they currently stand. Are you satisfied?

Nine semesters. That's how long my Ball State University career, complete in December, will have run. And through it all I'm sure there is no moment I would take back; even after the difficulties, both those unavoidable and self-imposed.

But sometimes, everyone wishes they could replay a moment. So, as I prepare for graduation I've been taking stock of what I did in college. Other than occasionally forsaking the class portion of college life, I'm satisfied with what I've learned and experienced. Except for one thing.

The Black Student Association.

I single out BSA because they're the group with which I have been most actively involved. However, it must be said, that the same ability to force change is present in all the student organizations.

Paulo Freire wrote in "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" that, "The oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable of running the risks it requires."

How does BSA and all other student groups relate to the pedagogy of the oppressed? Simple. If America is an oppressor and people of color are oppressed, one can look at Ball State as a microcosm of that power-powerless model. For the purpose of this argument, all students will represent the oppressed.

This is where my one replay and the Black Student Association enters. In "Pedagogy," Freire talked about how only the oppressed can set themselves free. For as we all know, those in power don't give it up willingly.

The biggest failing of the Black Student Association of the past few years, and to be fair, that of the student population as a whole is to affect change when we most want to see it. Imagine the student body choosing a few issues to work on as a group. (Tailgating, anyone?)

Seriously upset about Parking Services? Let's organize a petition to make changes, assemble publicly and, if necessary, bring media attention to ensure our voices are heard.

Truly interested in helping the Multicultural Center? Start by better utilizing it. Go visit. It's there for everyone, and they would love to be able to support every campus group. But alas, they are woefully under-funded (and this even before the budget shortfall). And never mind the fact that the multicultural student organizations are not housed in the Multicultural Center. It's a long story.

If we could pick an issue to collectively force, why shouldn't change happen? Whether it's parking services, tailgating or funding for the Multicultural Center, we need to take a first step. If what it takes is help organizing, e-mail me, I'll help find it, and in the case that no one wants the responsibility, I'll help you do it myself.

"Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly."

-Paulo Freire

Write to Aric at ariclewis@hotmail.com


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