Why should you care about the upcoming Student Government elections? Why should you care about an audio recording from a Student Government Cabinet meeting? Hillary Shepheard, Anthony Hernandez, Abby TerHaar, Jordan Mazurek and Jonathan Davis have taken many different and eloquent approaches to this question already. Yet as a member of Intercom and a Judicial Board Justice recused from the upcoming statue spending case, I want to cast recent events at the university in the light of perspective and principles, not people and policies.
Your four years in college are the most transformative years of your life, the years in which you will seek out new ideas, define your values and forge friendships and passions which endure until and beyond your dying day. Studying at a university positively affects your future career goals, income, success and fulfillment, while learning financial and social independence pushes you toward the risks of life strengthened by the promise of education. TCU guides us with vision and action along the uncertain trail toward a future threatened with setbacks and unexpected obstacles.
The decisions we make here are about more than $50,000, student government votes, media sensations and inflammatory rumors. The decisions we make here are about what happens in individual lives after the donning of cap and gown and the journey into full adulthood. These decisions are measured by what makes each person at TCU a more ethical leader, faithful servant and global citizen. If we do not stand up, make these decisions and speak for ourselves, who will speak for us? If we do not become stakeholders in our futures and equal partners of our university community, who will take the responsibility to make this school great?
We have a clear choice to make as students. Our choice is between the past and the future, between disregarding our student leadership and embracing its potential and power. We cannot afford to remain asleep at the wheel, surviving from crisis to crisis and expecting to rally around the purple and white front porch of athletics. Our national rankings rise but our reputation faces the criticism of substance abuse, party culture and distance from our progressive Christian heritage. Our athletics will be decorated and victorious in the Big 12, but could also face years of drought and fan disinterest. The time is now to stand, shed the reluctant tangles of a familiar TCU and step into the hopeful project of shaping common principles which reflect the realities of the present.
Our Chancellor and the leaders before him crafted a transformative mission and purpose for this university, one which witnessed our rise from a sleepy school on a Fort Worth hilltop into a vibrant community of scholars, programmers and learners. The opportunities we have at TCU are unparalleled, and the possibilities unlimited. Yet we cannot find the opportunities and possibilities of this campus until we demand more from ourselves as a student body to match the blessing of a strong administration.
We must renounce our disinterest in student leadership and take interest and invest in the issues, values and efficacy of SGA, student advisory boards such as Intercom and the executive groups which set the tone and function of our involvement such as Inclusiveness & Intercultural Services, Religious & Spiritual Life, Interfraternity Council and many more. We must renounce the patronage politics which promise pet projects, are elected on pet projects and deliver on pet projects from a $90 student activities fee. We must renounce decision-making by a few leaders who, when left with just whispers of deeper student concerns have at worst an excuse and at best no choice but to pursue those very same pet projects.
Embracing broader goals, tougher questions and more complex answers ought to be our task.SGA already moves in that direction, with Education Week, human trafficking awareness and partnerships with USAID and UNICEF all shared at the Oct. 30 meeting alone. We must begin a dialogue and share our voice with trust, persistence and excitement. From diversity to university traditions, from global conflicts to U.S. elections and from social justice to philanthropy, everyone has a cause. With an impending tuition increase, TCU will converse about college affordability. With Thanksgiving at the end of November, TCU will converse about hunger. With Christmas, TCU will converse about its religious identity. With tragic student experiences TCU has already conversed about suicide, substance abuse and eating disorders.
The causes are many, but their advocates are few. Only a strong student body can inscribe them in the public space of SGA, student leadership forums, publications and the walls and sidewalks of the university. It is this new heart for change which will build up a university culture equipped to give four transformative, unforgettable years to the life of every student in each major and from all backgrounds.
Pearce Edwards is a senior political science major from Albuquerque, NM.