The Santa Clara
October 6, 2016
Shutting up or getting called out. It’s a decision students have to make every day. In classes, clubs meetings or over dinners at Benson, students inevitably tense up and become quieter whenever someone points out offensive behavior.
This is an understandable reaction. No one wants the reputation of being an insensitive jerk so we shut up rather than modify our actions–or maybe we shut up because we’re afraid of what we’ll say. Either way, this is absolutely the wrong approach if we want Santa Clara’s campus culture to change and evolve into a more inclusive campus.
As the recent vandalism of the 43 memorial has shown us, our campus has an unfortunate record of students showing insensitivity in the place of solidarity. The disrespect may not necessarily be out of malice, but the lack of empathy and support we show to different cultural groups on campus nonetheless leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Together as a campus and as individuals, we need to define what solidarity means to us. For many, solidarity means prioritizing the human reality of suffering over political back and forth. We can often get so caught up in left versus right that we forget to acknowledge and empathize with the suffering and motivating protesters in North Carolina, France and even here in the Bay Area.
For me, solidarity means empathizing with people not ideologies, but everyone ultimately needs to define what solidarity means for themselves. It’s important though that whatever definition you decide on carries some weight and intention. Putting a filter on your Facebook profile picture may show solidarity online, but that same type of visibility needs to be seen in real life and on campus. After all, being a visible ally is half the battle and goes a long way in making a lot of students feel safer at Santa Clara.
Just on campus alone there are a lot of ways and opportunities to show solidarity. Difficult Dialogues, the MCC, SCAPP and the Rainbow Resource Center are just some organizations on campus with weekly events focused on fostering cultural education and support. It may be difficult, even uncomfortable, to actively participate in conversations and events like a Difficult Dialogue on racial profiling. However, facing our ignorance head-on is the only way we can get rid of it.
I want to be clear, however, that solidarity will not always mean flawlessly supporting each other and being up to date on all the politically correct vocabulary and movements. Mistakes are going to happen, but lessons can be learned. The fear of tripping over your own words and opinions shouldn’t stop you from getting involved.
We need to be mindful that solidarity is a freedom of expression we are lucky to have as college students living in the United States. It is not within our power to change the world from the confines of our campus, but it is our responsibility to treat our campus as a microcosm of the real world. Whatever cruelties we instigate here will be echoed tenfold in the real world. Whatever acts of solidarity we involve ourselves in will be echoed too.
Perla Luna is a sociology and English major and is the editor of the Opinion Section.