IMAGE COURTESY OF WENDY ZHANG AT THE STUDENT LIFE
CMC students’ well-intentioned efforts to combat prejudice have veered into the realm of counterproductive activism, which inadvertently harms the very communities they aim to uplift. It's time to take a step back and ask ourselves: Have the fiery debates, finger-pointing, and self-congratulatory events truly ameliorated the social divide at CMC, or have they merely created the illusion of progress?
Campus climate surveys reveal an unsettling truth: while the majority of students report positive interactions with their peers, there is a pronounced gap between this widespread satisfaction and the experiences of Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+ students. These disparities demand attention. However, the current state of campus activism might be hindering, rather than helping, progress on this front.
Activism should not be about participation prizes or padding one's resume but about making a tangible difference in the lives of marginalized communities. Unfortunately, the focus on optics and self-promotion detracts from the actual work that needs to be done.
The college community must remember that all students attend classes, eat in dining halls, and have real emotions. Verbal attacks only foster division and create hostility, hindering genuine progress. Accusations of insufficient DEI efforts, followed by demands to set ego aside, lead to unproductive and hypocritical situations. The college should promote open and honest dialogue.
Rather than addressing the systemic issues at hand, some individuals resort to personal jabs and character attacks, undermining their own credibility and distracting from the real concerns. Such juvenile tactics only serve to further polarize the campus community and foster an environment of hostility and mistrust. Isn't the goal to build an inclusive and just campus for all? If so, I am not sure how attacks or even rewards in the name of false progress are helping.
Consider the recent case of a student who received additional compensation for work she had already been paid to complete as an elected ASCMC officer. No other officers were given additional pay, as it should be—extra pay for fulfilling one's duties is unjustifiable. That money could have supported an affinity group, but instead, it ended up in a student's pocket. Remember, these stipends are funded by your student fees.
CARE events, designed to raise awareness and promote social justice, often attract the same attendees time and time again. While it's commendable that a core group of individuals is dedicated to these causes, the question arises: Are we genuinely reaching the people who need to hear these messages the most? Or are we just reinforcing our beliefs in an echo chamber? Not everyone feels comfortable attending niche events, and this isn't a failure of the wider community. Whether you like it or not, Brad and Chad are not coming to those events, and no effort is made to meet them where they're at.
Instead of approaching disagreements with pitchforks and torches at the ready, the campus community must foster an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation. By engaging in respectful conversations, the college can address the concerns of marginalized communities more effectively and create genuine change on campus.
This op-ed isn't meant to silence student activists or brand them as "uncivilized." Instead, it seeks to boldly expose the unspoken hypocrisy, unmasking actions that masquerade as virtuous but are, in reality, mere signaling. Some will attack this article because being antagonistic often seems easier than admitting one's own shortcomings. We have reached a point where it is deemed acceptable to call someone a "prick" in a public meeting or to demand a public apology from an ASCMC officer of color for expressing legitimate concerns about safety at a Halloween event. The fact that these ideas are likely to be met with hostility only serves to prove the point that there is a need for a more constructive, respectful approach to activism on our campus.
The college community must work together to ensure that its activism creates a legacy ofgenuine progress, rather than becoming an empty performance that ultimately harms thecommunities it aims to support. So, let's take a deep breath, put down the megaphone, and start talking to each other like humans.