Peaceful protests build cornerstone for positive change

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN


Sierra Shelton, Staff Writer

Peaceful protests have been exhibited around our campus more and more in recent months, but some outsiders have called protestors “unruly” or even “obnoxious,” conveniently forgetting the monumental importance protests hold in our nation’s history and their protection under the First Amendment.

Recently, City College has had protests against racism, against pro-life graphic abortion displays on campus and even ones about gender neutral bathrooms in 2017.

To refuse to listen and dismiss groups in any institution allows harmful processes to repeat. Playing the bystander role is just as intolerable as being the perpetrator, and quite frankly does everyone a disservice.

How can any progress be made in our school and community if we don’t listen to those suffering from the toxic culture?

Recently, City College students have demonstrated against institutional racism on campus. Without students and staff that care enough to protest for a positive change, the issues will never be addressed.

Groups like the Black Student Union, The Black Student Coalition for Justice and Umoja have repeatedly said their piece, offered solutions, and used peaceful protests to confront the recent controversy around Vice President of Business Services Lyndsay Maas’ use of the unabbreviated n-word during an Equity Work Group meeting in November.

In return, the student protestors have been antagonized and alienated by the Board of Trustees and the campus community as a whole.

The students have been called “whiny” and also have been told to “shut up” and “get out” during the most recent board meeting. Apparently, wanting to be respected on this campus as an enrolled, paying student is asking for too much.

Silencing people who have experienced injustice on this campus is hindering their right to free speech and opinion. The purpose of these historic displays are to bring real issues to the forefront, all the while inspiring people to be proactive in their communities.

When you have people protesting for a meaningful motive as opposed to gathering in traffic around a stadium to fuss about a favorite team’s loss, what makes protesting seen so negatively on our campus?

Humans are naturally quick to shut down and silence what they don’t want to know because after all, ignorance is bliss.

Step out of ignorance and realize that protesting is the best way a silenced group can make a positive change in its environment. The receiving party needs to actively listen and be receptive.

After all, silence is compliance.