Orji: To be or not to be — a student activist on a college campus

Joslyn Orji

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Looming deadlines and droning reading assignments play a huge role in taking up all of a student’s time. Let’s not forget the time put into maintaining good relationships with those around you or hefty work hours for a little extra cash. That’s what it means to be a student.

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Of course, there also has to be a ton of time allocated to self-care and doing whatever it is that makes you happy. I mean, in order to root for anything, you need to root for yourself first. But in the midst of all of that, what time is there to devote yourself to the social issues that you believe in while you’re still rocking the, supposedly, best four years of your life?

Now, what does it mean to be an activist? Like many side engagements, activism is something that can either consume all of your time or just be a repost of a tweet that you resonated deeply with. This varies across all students here at Colorado State University. 

It ties into what a student’s interests are and if they align with what they enjoy canvassing for outside of class. A zoology major might advocate for a plant-based diet as a means to fight climate change. A political science major might advocate for free speech or social justice. The point is, all of us can be student activists if we care about it enough. 

The truth is, unless you’re incredibly versatile, most students don’t have the time to devote themselves to a cause or to even be as active in it as they would like to. It’s a constant state of either-or and in this case, grades or beliefs.

In fact, once you find your groove, being a student activist is a really fun way to meet people who believe in the same causes as you do.”

It always comes down to a conjuncture, a crossroads. Either I do homework or I attend this 75 minute speech about the state of feminism across universities in Colorado. Either I can knock this project out in about three hours or I can attend a Black Student Activist Conference for five. After all, it is what I believe in, and I need to make meaningful connections with my fellow student activists.

So, what does it mean to be a student activist on a college campus? 

To be a student and an activist means taking control of situations. It entails taking a stance on what you believe needs to be recognized on our campus or in the community as a whole. Bringing attention to an issue also plays a huge part in student advocacy.

Many individuals are completely unaware about some issues and vice versa. That brings me to the point that, as a collective, we all desire harmony among our various perspectives. What better way to do that than informing the public through advocacy?

Whenever I ask this question, I am constantly met with the “It’s not our job to tell them” response. If it isn’t our job to tell them, shouldn’t we at least give someone desiring to understand our point of view somewhere to start? This question varies among different social issues. You’re not always going to elicit the same response. However, so long as the intent is there and positive, it does not hurt to give a fellow Ram a push in the right direction. 

Let’s face it — the alternative is them discovering a highly biased source straight from Google. We don’t want (or need) the repercussions of that.

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But that’s not to say that it is a hard or daunting thing to advocate strongly for what you believe in. In fact, once you find your groove, being a student activist is a really fun way to meet people who believe in the same causes as you. Some of my best moments in college have been while I was out in the burning sun or zero-degree weather campaigning for different causes.

At CSU, it seems as if there is a club for everything. Even if there isn’t one that fits your exact niche, establishing one is not that difficult. That said, if you really care about something, chase it.

If you feel like your view is not being represented, start making those steps to be recognized. In other words, don’t give up on being a student advocate because it does not fit into your schedule or what you’re passionate about. The good thing about a university like Colorado State is that student views are always represented, so long as they align with the Student Conduct Code, that is. 

Joslyn Orji can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @lazy_svndae_.