Protest right move, must lead to action
The activist spirit is alive and well on the MSU campus, but in the case of MSU Greenpeace, it unfortunately has yet to result in any real change.
Three members of MSU Greenpeace were arrested for arranging a sit-in at MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s office last Thursday.
Here’s a case of student activism in action; MSU Greenpeace doing what it can to keep their message in the ears of the administration, for that they should be lauded.
In the past, this editorial board has been critical of students not being active enough on campus, but that’s not the case this time around.
It is difficult for the university to put any plan on the back burner if students keep bringing it to the forefront. Persistence is a virtue, and students being persistent keeps the university honest with them.
With that said, MSU Greenpeace can’t miss the forest for the trees. It can’t let the desire to take its message to the administration prevent further progress toward its stated goal.
The sit-in itself is great, but when Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank offered a sit-down to address the concerns before they were hauled off, that’s an opportunity a student organization has to take. An opportunity for the issues to be addressed directly by MSU’s administration can’t be ignored.
Activism should lead to action. Clamoring to get your voice heard, then declining a meeting that would be held specifically to air grievances is counterproductive. If students protest because they have something to say, when they get the chance to say it they should take it.
In not taking that meeting, the student organization appears to be sitting in solely for the purpose of demonstrating, which muddles the message any group is trying to send.
The ultimate goal of any protest should not be to get arrested. The ultimate goal should be to affect change.
MSU has a Energy Transition Steering Committee that is working with both MSU Greenpeace and MSU Beyond Coal to find an energy plan that transitions MSU off coal energy. If MSU Greenpeace has a concern about the timeliness with which the university makes that transition, it can bring it up in those committee meetings.
It’s impossible to know if the protests or the committee had any impact until the university releases an energy transition plan that student organizations are in agreement with. Until then, by no means should MSU Greenpeace cease striving to make that plan a reality.
While it is lamentable that MSU Greenpeace missed an opportunity to sit down with university officials and foster real change, that’s not the end of energy discussions with the university.
There always will be meetings and opportunities for students to encourage the university to make changes they wish to see.
All student organizations should remember that protests are not the only way to get the university to listen.