Beginning April 11, a number of Texas State students occupied the LBJ Student Center after former Student Government President Connor Clegg evaded an initial impeachment trial due to the Senate failing to meet quorum. It is only natural a group of people who find themselves disenfranchised by their government turned to nonviolent protest against the system that failed them.
The dissent from protesters does not come from a democratic vote that was not in their favor, but rather from being denied the opportunity for the process to work. These cowardly so-called “representatives” had to be forced to attend another hearing because they would rather evade the question as a whole than risk losing the vote fairly. Not only is it a testament to the questionable character of these individuals, but it is alarming to think many of these students desire to be career politicians while being satisfied with usurpingdemocracy and justice.
This example of student-run activism in relation to a student-run government, while problematic and dysfunctional at times, is quintessential to shaping the leaders of the future. Displays of the power held by students while tense are indicative of a bright future for the American public.
As we see on a national level with the March For Our Lives movement and in our own community with #TXSTSITIN, student-run movements have the ability to spark discussion, encouragement and scrutiny from external and often older forces. And on the same front for student empowerment, we see the deterioration of a free and independent student-run press.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Southern Methodist University will take control of their student-run newspaper, The Daily Campus. This acquisition comes as The Daily Campus is faced with a lack of funds, thus forcing it to either dissolve or rely on SMU’s school of journalism.
Melissa Gomez, Editor-in-Chief of The Independent Florida Aligator organized a day of action on April 25 around the hashtag, #SaveStudentNewsrooms. With The University Star being no stranger to threats on its independence thanks to Clegg, the editorial board finds solidarity with The Daily Campus, The Independent Florida Alligator and student-run publications across the nation.
While it may appear trivial, the importance of student-run institutions is nothing to be overlooked. The government, the activists and the press are the most important estates of our civilization. Protecting the integrity of student-run governments, movements and publications become increasingly important as it is the principles established here that will carry future generations into the highest roles of American society.
Furthermore, a university is a large organization with many influences around money, information and values. Therefore, it should not be exempt from the same accountability we require of all government-funded institutions.
Student Government gives aspiring politicians a place to practice representing the interests of a constituency while advocating for students against an intimidating university administration. Student activism gives emerging thought leaders a space to practice civic engagement while shining light on corruption at both a local and national level. And similarly, student media allows young journalists to practice information gathering while actively informing their communities and promoting transparency.
Small-scale does not mean less important. Democracy, justice and truth even on a small scale should be defended to the fullest, because justice on the small scale is the foundation for justice on the grand scale.