As many on campus and across America are calling for a political revolution through the Presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, we would like to see a political revolution in Knox’s campus politics. In fact, there are several similarities between Knox College politics and American politics. For example, just as political apathy is a problem ailing American politics, we believe that it is similarly applicable for Knox campus politics.
To elaborate, it is no secret that many students at Knox do not care about decisions that impact their daily lives at Knox. A notable organization that Knox students do not pay much attention to is the Student Senate. One of this piece’s authors served on the Senate last year and can attest that the issue of apathy was frequently discussed at Senate meetings. The only suggestions given were to engage more with the student body and to bring these issues up within casual discussion. There has not been a noticeable increase in campus engagement by Knox College students. It is the responsibility of the Student Senate to lower apathy among students, yet the Senate seems to take the issue of student apathy for granted and not something to be improved upon.
At the same time, there is a general distrust and distaste of the Knox Administration. These feelings are not without reason. Many students feel that their voices are often not being heard, while others feel that their views are being purposefully silenced. Within the past three years alone, there have been a handful of major student movements, none of which though ever gained much ground. It is not that these movements were lazy or lacked the student body’s support. To the contrary, campus-wide student movements have collectively held walkouts, die-ins, sit-ins, shit-ins, petitions, protests and campus-wide informational campaigns, among other actions. These movements have also garnered large amounts of student support, such as the Title IX Campaign, which had the support of at least over 100 students and over 750 student signatures on the campaign’s petition listing their demands. If over half the student body agrees with any type of legal change in campus policy, one would think that the administration would make an effort to change that policy. This could not be any further from the truth; none of Knox’s Title IX policies have been reformed and it does not seem like any real efforts are being made to do so. One possible reason that the college’s administration can so easily ignore criticisms of their policies is that they are able to easily take advantage of the widespread student apathy. The administration knows that even when over half the student body signs a petition to change Knox policy, very few if any of these students will actively fight back and oppose the Administration if they refuse to act on the demands of the student body.
The Knox College Student Senate is supposed to function as a liaison between the student body and the Knox Administration, with its members democratically elected by the student body. As Senate’s constitution Article 3, Section A states, “the Senate shall be elected by the student body.” Unfortunately, not many people vote in Student Senate elections. When one of us tried to bring the subject of Senate elections up during the 2015 Fall Term, it was apparent that not many students participated in the days-long election process. The process only involves filling out a Google survey, which takes less than five minutes. At the same time, Senate should also do their part in more consistently reminding the student body of elections when they occur. This collective apathy toward the affairs of Student Senate lasts throughout the school year. The Student Senate functions when it serves the needs to the student body. When the Student Senate functions it is because students actively engage themselves in the Knox College community. When the Senate does not function, it is because students are not engaged within the Knox College community and decisions which affect all of us will be decided by the few who are involved. It is this second type of scenario which we have right now and it is this scenario that the interests of the senators and the administration are enabled to be pursued regardless of how it affects the Knox community.
As we already stated, there are stark parallels in our criticisms of Knox campus politics and American politics as criticized by Senator Bernie Sanders. Like much of U.S. Congress the Knox Student Senate sees nothing wrong with political apathy within their constituencies. Similarly, it is not seen in the interests of our representatives, both at Knox and in national politics, to engage amongst their constituents. Much like Bernie Sanders, whose candidacy for U.S. President has been changing the culture of apathy around our national politics, we would like for there to be a political revolution at Knox. We hope that those who agree with us will not wait for somebody to run for Student Senate, but will take initiative and run for Senate themselves or at least become more active within the Knox community. Enough is enough!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss