If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me either “you should be in politics” or “you should be a lawyer,” I wouldn’t have financial trouble. I always had an inkling in my heart that both of these proposed career paths were, in fact, not for me. However, it wasn’t until I became an on-campus activist that I realized my intuition is true. Through holding a senate position on campus, I came to the conclusion that my method of activ- ism isn’t meant for government. Along with this, the frustrating nature of having to defend issues that aren’t seen as an immediate problem solidified my notion that I am in fact not meant for a courtroom.
Power dynamics and structures are very much in place at Marymount Manhattan College. The chain of command is especially present to those who have focused on shifting campus policy for the interests of disenfranchised communities on campus. It can be a frustrating scenario to have to follow certain channels and avenues in order to have your voice heard. If a student was unsatis ed with the progress of their on-campus goal, practices were set in place to ensure that issues wouldn’t be addressed any higher up unless need be. This academic year we have seen students become creative to address their concerns outside of this power structure. For example, unsatis ed with the college’s reasoning as to why the institution won’t openly say Black Lives Matter outside of naming an event, students created post- ers that voiced their frustrations. This same poster would also be featured in the Black History Month issue of The Monitor. Despite MMC describing itself as an institution welcome to on-campus political activism, most posters were removed from their locations by the 11:30 AM class time slot on that day.
Along with this, students felt a sense of frustration when expressing their views of racist practices on campus. MMC prides itself on being an institution that welcomes and accepts differences of all proportions. While it is remarkable that we attend an institution that does pride itself on its liberal ideals, this does not exempt staff or faculty members from engaging in potentially offensive behaviors. Call out culture allows us to confront those around us who may have said something harmful unintentionally. While MMC is an environment where call out culture is welcomed, often times it has become an “I’m not racist/transphobic, and how dare you imply such things” moment. This rings especially true to interactions with staff and faculty members. No one is exempt from perpetuating microaggressions and we all aren’t problematic free human beings. However, when one voices their concerns with staff and faculty treatment of certain issues, perhaps the appropriate attitude would be to listen rather than to de immediately defensive.
A lot of change was created due to student pushback throughout my four years of college at MMC. In some instances, MMC is a completely different institution than the one I attended way back in 2013, and I would argue it changed for the better. Student activists are responsible for all advancements in regards to campus climate. While it could be tremendously challenging for a radical activist to exist in an institution of higher learning, it has been rewarding to see remnants of the work of my peers continue to manifest in upcoming campus initiatives. The road to equality is not an easy one, and I have learned throughout my time at MMC that it isn’t for the sensitive of heart, either. However, I learned that activism is something I am beyond passionate about and am excited to apply it to my career not only as a social worker, but as an actor as well.