The Future of Pacific’s Civic Engagement
This semester has been a particularly jarring one for students, faculty, and administration alike. Given Pacific’s long history of political apathy, even with respect to some of the most controversial issues, this semester has shown huge growth in the civic engagement of the student population. The incitement of much of this civic engagement can be credited to a group of students who started a twitter account called @UOPindecline, which expressed views critical of administration.
Since the account was started about two months ago, it has gained almost 600 followers and university-wide recognition. So far, the account has been used to organize two student protests and continues to show support for issues that are believed to be overlooked by administration. In an attempt to keep up the momentum we have gained in affecting change over the past couple months, many students are wondering: where do we go from here?
According to Caroline Styc (Economics and Political Science ‘19), one of the leaders of the No Ma’am Pam movement, “I think the administration is really just going to keep lighting the fire because of these budget cuts so it’s not going to be very hard for us to keep people involved and interested. Like the news that came out today about the field hockey team, that stuff is just going to keep happening and people are going to continue to be angry and so it’s kind of just being handed to us on a silver platter. It’s up to us to put it on social media, make it known, and get people talking about it really.”
Although we still have a long way to go, students have made commendable efforts to affect change at Pacific. The civic engagement that the Pacific community has engaged in proved to be a learning experience for everyone involved. Both the reaction from upper administration toward the protests as well as the turnout at the protests themselves were very telling.
“I have learned that our administration counts on students being unaware and non-vocal about our concerns. They count on flying under the radar and, for the most part, they’ve gotten away with it. Now that they know we are watching closely and are allied with faculty and staff, I can imagine they’re feeling the pressure to maybe do their job right,” says Luiza Macedo (Political Science and Economics ‘19), another No Ma’am Pam movement leader. “Give students a forum and they will take advantage. I think our problem thus far hasn’t been ignorance or apathy, but rather that we haven’t felt the power to speak up. Together, we know we have that power and the student body really stepped up.”
Both student leaders claim that there will likely be more civil engagement in the future as long as students feel the need for it, however it can be difficult to say what form this civil engagement will present itself in. As long as students feel as though the only way that they can be heard is through protests, there will continue to be protests. If student voices can be heard in other ways, different routes will be pursued.
We have already seen many creative ways in which students have chosen to voice their opinions on University Administration including: the use of social media, spray-painting the spirit rocks, and even the creation of a documentary. No matter what method you choose to make your voices heard, this semester has shown that the future of Pacific lies in the hands of anyone who is willing to speak up!