Editorial: calling for student engagement in campus discourse

As the first semester comes to a close, we’d like to reflect on this year’s landscape at Colby, and argue for more dialogue and questioning from the student body. While the Echo is far from a perfect newspaper, it consistently provides space every week for student and faculty opinions, a space often underutilized by this community. When the space fills, opinions often revolve around broad social issues, national politics, or small reviews.  While these are all valuable contributions that deserve space, the Echo should contain more opinions from the student body about their experiences here, especially given the current state of the College.

David. A. Greene is entering his fourth year as president, and has fostered many fantastic initiatives for the future. This is, of course, exciting, but it is misguided for students to not question the administration’s actions…at least slightly. The reality is, the College is changing a lot, and many students seem content to let it happen or simply make fun of the marketing surrounding the Dare Northward campaign without questioning its implications.

While so many students discuss the excitement of Colby’s elevating image after they graduate, the internships or jobs they will get, and the fun they will have as alumni, we think it is important for people to reflect on their current four year experience that only occurs once in a lifetime, and ask themselves if the administration is really doing the best they can to improve current student’s situations on campus. 

The improving ColbyNow, Greene’s newly-created Task Force on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, and this newspaper are all valuable resources for improving student discourse that must be utilized.  This discourse also must not be limited to critiques of the administration, as the student body itself is by no means perfect.  We destroy dormitories, we drink excessively, and we act disrespectfully.  We also perform poorly in academics, forget to wipe off athletic center equipment, and steal dishes from dining halls.  By and large, our sports teams did not meet the standard of excellence declared in the athletics’ mission statement, and students continue to park over the lines in our lots. Some of these problems are small, but a culture of complacency results in a system in which the people who violate the rules are not held accountable. 

Dialogue and debate between students who do not agree with one another, as demonstrated in the op-ed on gender-disparity in Heights, should be encouraged. This is a student-run newspaper dedicated to discussing issues Colby students are passionate about, and right now we are struggling to unearth that passion in our peers.

Every week, stories in the Echo try to paint a picture of life on Mayflower Hill with both positive and negative perspectives about our tight-knit community from students, faculty, and staff.  Our readership remains small, but our articles have influence, have been used by major newspapers, and regularly get picked up and clicked on, at least occasionally, by the average Mule.  Well-written and good-intentioned opinions do reach the minds of students and can make a difference.  At the very least, the Echo represents a snapshot of Colby’s history in 2017. It deserves to be a comprehensive representation of the student body’s diverse opinions, not a weekly regurgitation of those of this staff. This can only happen if members of the community decide to make a statement about what they care about. It is our responsibility and our desire to elevate student voices.

Finally, The Echo wants to remind each student that Colby really is their campus. It is not Waterville’s, or Greene’s, or the donors’ College, but the students’ College. What students want to happen really can. Think the Mary Low Coffeehouse, the downtown shuttle, expanded gender neutral bathrooms on campus, etc.  But, unfortunately, both the administration and many members of the student body are acting to the College’s detriment right now. Let’s start a conversation.