Editorial: It’s in your hands

Since the start of this school year, our paper has opened up to provide the student body a voice. As a university newspaper, we’ve done everything we can to let students open up about this campus — and up to this point, the response has been paltry.

There’s an issue at this school with engagement. When Donald Trump became president, many students pounded the pavement to protest his victory. Some even ripped up copies of our paper after we put his face on it. Just weeks ago, several UW Tacoma students and faculty stood in the middle of campus and waved signs and shouted about President Trump’s executive order, which banned refugees and travelers from selected Middle East countries from entering the United States.

But when the dust settled, everyone was gone.

Since the courts ruled against President Trump’s travel ban, we at the Ledger have heard nothing about any rallies to fix the issues of this country. Once the initial anger dissipated, our campus went back to sleep.

And on Feb. 22, it was much of the same. Our student government, ASUWT, held a “Day of Hope” conference where they introduced two guest speakers — both UW Tacoma students — to talk about diversity and what it means to them. But as the ceremony started, students walked past and ignored the event, even though Johnny Chen, ASUWT Director of University Affairs, stood outside to draw students into the event. When the Day of Hope finally started, 10 people — half of them faculty — filled the seats.

The same was the case with ASUWT’s town hall meeting. That meeting gave ASUWT a real chance to hear students’ concerns, and for the two hours the panel was present on stage, about twenty people showed up.

When talking with Johnny after the Day of Hope, we both agreed that maybe the message isn’t getting out there. Johnny said he hopes that everyone in ASUWT did everything they could to encourage students to attend, and I’m sure they did. The problem may be the marketing.

Or maybe it’s an issue with us at the Ledger. I don’t take kindly to student boards who come to our staff and ask us to write pieces for their upcoming events and refuse to use our advertising slots because they don’t want to pay for it. Maybe the Ledger should work closer with the campus clubs and organizations to create pieces that give students a heads up on future events and meetings.

But something tells me even those aren’t going to help.

In the eight months I’ve been Editor-in-Chief at the Ledger, I’ve received a total of eight letters to the editor — two of which I didn’t publish because they were from a hate group leader who doesn’t even live in this state. Three of them came from the same person and two of them were on the exact same topic. Only one of them was a response to any of our Ledger stories.

I’ve received emails about corrections, errors, and even our Trump cover, so I know our newspaper gets around. But we’ve received next to nothing when it comes to feedback about our paper, thoughts on the state of the campus or the nation, or even frustrations with the campus. Of the two that actually did vent frustration about a policy on campus, we found out that the campus group tasked to lead the policy change the letters asked for couldn’t move forward because they couldn’t get a response from the activists.

I don’t like to show my hand as a journalist, but I’m going to anyway. We have become a community of critics. We dislike the ways in which our campus operates, yet we do nothing when campus groups go out of their way to instill some sort of change. We’d rather rant and rave on social media, get angry and yell, or send emails about frustrations, but when it comes to taking time out of our day, we refuse to budge. And to be honest, it’s frustrating to watch.

I’m not saying I don’t understand college life. I’m a husband, a father of two children, a full-time student, an Air Force reservist, and a restaurant server. I have almost no time to go out and rally against injustices or fight for what I believe in.

But I have the Ledger.

We all do. That was my purpose for implementing letters to the editor — to give this campus’ body a voice. Social media only goes as far as your network and connections — but this newspaper spans the entire campus. You can vent about the injustices you see or you can raise questions about campus policy. And most of all, you can call for action.

I’m not asking everyone to attend every single event the campus has to offer — I’m asking everyone to participate from time to time. This campus only gets better when we as students come together collectively, and the only way that happens is if we talk collectively.

So here’s my proposition: Our March 27 issue is yours — students, staff, and faculty. Our March 27 paper will only contain letters to the editor. You do not have to give me your name, and I won’t post your email address. Just as long as the letter is respectful and expresses a valid concern, we will post it in the paper. Tell us everything this campus lacks — or has too much of. Tell us what you think about policies on campus. Tell us what the student publications, clubs and government can do to improve this campus. And most importantly — tell us how to fix it.

It’s time to stop sitting around complaining about our problems — it’s time to make the changes. And it starts by admitting there is a problem: both student groups and the student body need to engage more.

It’s time to become a unified campus. It’s time to connect with the groups and clubs at this university to make a significant difference in our little community.

Send your letters to Ledger@uw.edu by no later than March 22 to make the March 27 issue deadline.