December 12, 2014
Believe it or not, the fall semester is drawing to a close. As more and more snow begins to fall and Hamilton students spend dreadful amounts of time in the Library in preparation for the upcoming exams, The Spectator is reflecting upon the major events of this semester.
The Fall 2014 semester been very eventful for students on Hamilton’s campus. In September, students fought Jitney policy changes that required students to both pay a dollar and be 21-years-old to go downtown. The faculty also hosted a teach-in to protest the events in Ferguson, MO this past summer. October featured The Movement’s involvement in the campus’ trans-rights movement in advocating for more gender neutral bathrooms of campus. In November, students advocated for better energy efficiency on campus when it became clear that Hamilton could not possibly win the NY6 regional competition for the Campus Conservation Nations due to its dependence on fossil fuels for heating certain residence halls. Finally, in December, we saw undoubtedly the most dramatic example of student activism that Hamilton College students have engaged: the “die-in” protest against racial-profiling and police brutality.
In the beginning of the semester, The Spectator chastised the apathy of students who declined to participate in the “Make a Difference Day” hosted by HAVOC. As a staff, we expressed dissatisfaction with the student body’s lack of engagement with the community and, franky, its refusal to take action or use its voice. Nevertheless, throughout the course of the semester, Hamilton students—and even some faculty members—have proven to be great activists. An eclectic group of student organizations have stood up, voiced their opinions and proclaimed that the status quo was unacceptable. Whether or not you agree with any individual groups’ particular position, it is inspiring when a group of students stands up for what they believe in.
Not only have students attempted to change things for what they think is the better, they have done so using methods that are unique and profound. For example, HEAG protested wasted food in Commons by collecting and weighing Hamilton students’ uneaten food. While it is not new, The Movement’s method papering their various demands all over campus is always a surprise and a large topic of conversation. Finally, the die-in was most exciting form of protest that we at The Spectator have seen during our collective time at Hamilton. Students blocked traffic, faced off with the police, risked arrest and disrupted campus in order to draw attention to problem of police violence.
The world needs leaders who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, despite the popularity of the ideas. The protests that occurred this past semester forced students to engage in sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary conversations. At a liberal arts college like Hamilton, we all grow from these dialogues, so it is important to keep speaking our minds.