Luther College Chips

Campus activism priorities problematic

Jacob Warehime, News Editor

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This semester, two proposals for modifying Luther’s campus have sparked public debate. Both the now-declined proposal to build an elementary school on Anderson Prairie and the current proposal to add a blue turf field in Carlson Stadium have prompted active, campus-wide conversations. Both these controversies have also stirred something else — the question: why do we care so much? More specifically, why are these the issues that our campus has collectively decided to bring to the forefront of the public sphere of discussion?

With my ear to the ground like the good news editor I am, I’ve come to learn that this complaint actually breaks down into two different sub-issues. First, I found that many organizations on campus, especially ones dedicated to social justice, are frustrated with how quickly Anderson Prairie and the blue turf field captured the focus of the students, faculty, and administration — the same focus their respective groups are continually (and depending on who you ask, fruitlessly) courting.

Second of these sub-issues that I have heard debated is the question: does the ability to care so much about a prairie or a football field come from a place of privilege? That is to say, with so many causes out there — so many fights to fight — who among us can afford to put caring about a prairie or a football field at the top of their list? Clearly some of us can. But what does it take to care? Again, these are not my own arguments, simply debates that I have been hearing over the last semester.

So why? Going back to the question posed in the first paragraph, why are these the issues that our campus has collectively decided to bring to the forefront of the public sphere of discussion? Did these issues get brought to the forefront because money is involved? Did we put stake in them because it is convenient to us? Did we do it because Chips published front page articles on them? Did we do it because we feel that, due to the contained locality of the situation, our voices can actually make a difference? Did we do it because we want a cause to fight for, and things like Anderson Prairie and the blue turf field are accessible outlets to exercise this desire? Did we do it because everyone else did? Or do we do it because, simply put, these issues are, in fact, the most important to us?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. Nor do I think there are even answers to be found. Perhaps the answers lie in the asking of these questions. Then again, perhaps these questions are folly — just another way to complain about people complaining. I would hope it’s more than that. But until we start asking ourselves why people care about the things they do — and until we can come up with our own individual explanations and firmly stand by them — do not be confused when not everybody cares as much as you about the fate of a field or a prairie.

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