The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Today, Real Food OSU, an Ohio State University branch of the national Real Food Challenge organization, is staging a protest called “OSU: In the Pocket of Who?” This event is being held so that students can hold their university leadership accountable for the choices that it makes regarding where the university’s food comes from and what practices are being used by the given suppliers, the event’s Facebook page explains. This demonstration, by all initial indicators, is one that will serve to create a discussion about where the food for the university comes from and how sustainable the practices used to produce it are.
For our purposes at Miami, we must look at this event and ask ourselves the obvious: why aren’t Miami students participating in similar activism? This campus has just as many questions to answer regarding the source of food and the environmental impact of all the services that Miami provides. And with the addition of a Starbucks on campus — not to mention Miami’s contract with Pepsi — it is clear that this campus also has outside, unsustainable influences when it comes to food.
This question of why Miami students have been averse to environmental activism is not one that can be answered easily or with certainty. To truly take charge in any situation is easier said than done (especially these days, when a simple Facebook like or tweet for a cause is considered the standard for supporting any cause). But the Miami student body’s general apathy towards environmental issues has become starkly apparent over the past few weeks, with an apparent lack of concern over the changes in policy that have been happening in our nation’s capital.
While other schools like OSU and the University of Cincinnati are staging protests calling out their leaders in the name of food and environmental consciousness, it seems that the Miami community couldn’t care less. Meanwhile, in D.C., Myron Ebell was recently appointed by President-elect Trump to lead the transition at the EPA.
On Nov. 11, The New York Times wrote that Ebell “will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly.”
Not convinced to protest yet? Ebell is a known denier of climate change. In terms of regressive politics, it doesn’t get worse than that.
So, why aren’t the green groups on campus attempting to make a change? Where are the protests, the demonstrations, the vigils? Where are the opinions? The voices?
And if they’re here, why don’t most of the students here know about them?
If there is anything that this election has shown, it’s that the American people on both sides are passionate. And we congratulate the passionate-but-concentrated groups that show up when they need to show up. But if a university is a microcosm of society as a whole, the society we are representing is quiet and complacent. Apathetic, even.
Peaceful demonstrations, boycotts and gatherings show those in positions of leadership that we are watching them and that we expect them to truly do what is best for the community and not what is best for a select few. At the very least, they increase debate on the issues and contribute to healthier political discussion.
That’s exactly why you see so many disgruntled, perturbed Americans taking to the streets in the past few days. Protests in Philadelphia and San Francisco, Detroit and Seattle, even in Dayton and Cincinnati have shown just how passionate this nation’s citizens can be — and the quaint college town of Oxford should be no different. Protests should not be limited to metropolitan areas, and students here have the opportunity to prove such.
Environmental issues affect everybody. The results of certain environmental policies may not be apparent immediately, but make no mistake: they have all the potential to bite us in the long run. To be informed about such issues is to be capable of changing the situation, and to actually help collaborate on demonstrations is to hold officials accountable for the decisions they make for all of us.
We encourage those who have a loud voice in cyberspace to project it into the real world. In doing so, a collective voice might be formed, a voice that has the potential to exact some real change.