Luther students should start working for change

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A few weeks ago, on Saturday night, I was walking down Water Street with three of my closest friends. We had been partaking in Saturday night activities and were therefore all in quite jolly moods. We all four identify as males, and were holding hands in pairs of two doing a slight skip down the street.

Then a white truck rolled by us, and a large white male, wearing a Luther College shirt, and with a scraggly reddish beard, stuck his head out the window. He proceeded to shout, “Stop holding hands [homophobic slur].” We all stopped in disbelief.

If I were really homosexual, I would have felt infinitely angrier, and incredibly scared of the place I lived in. Nonetheless I was infuriated, as were my friends. Let me remind you that this was not some back alley, or poster in a bathroom, but Water Street, Decorah’s main street, at just 10 p.m. This was a member of Luther’s community.

My question is: how are Luther students satisfied? Luther claims to be incredulously liberal, so much so, the liberalness of our campus is a commonly told joke. Yet Luther students seem satisfied to live in paradoxical ignorance. They claim to support social change, yet few attend meetings intending to change the climate on campus. They claim to be progressive intellectuals, yet it is rare a progressive speaker on campus even fills a single section of the CFL. Luther students cannot claim to be progressive if they do not commit to bettering themselves and their community. There is no contentment in social change and there is no constant point in growth. Luther students are ignorant to the failures of the institution they attend, and willfully neglectful of the power they hold. Over 90 percent of Luther’s yearly budget comes from student tuition. That means if the students want something, the administration has to listen, because if we stop paying tuition, they don’t have a school anymore. Students have the power, so use it. 

You can make all the excuses you want about not having enough time, whether it’s class, athletics, music, or another club. But if you are going to make that excuse you cannot claim to be an activist, you cannot claim to be an advocate, and you cannot claim to be progressive. You can only claim to be self-serving.

Look at the meetings now. Look at PRIDE, or BSU, or E4SJ [Educators for Social Justice], or NASA. It is the same 50 faces over and over again. Where are the hundreds of people that attended the sit in last year, and where are the hundreds beyond them who chose to be passively silent? Wake up and make an active difference. 

Whether that’s impacting others or making yourself uncomfortable in the name of growth, DO SOMETHING.

It is no secret that we live on a campus that is incredibly problematic, and in a community that is even more homogenous and ignorant. But that means we live in a community we can change. We don’t need the same 50 leaders already prepared to be activists, we need the mass of students infuriated about the ills society, ready to be the next chapter of young people shattering social barriers.


Sam Kottke (‘20)

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