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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

OPINION: We deserve more from the University of Arizona

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Elijah Bia
A side view of Old Main from Aug. 10, 2020.

This year, fear has become the defining marker that unites us as students at the University of Arizona. Violence on our campus is no longer something that is senseless, but expected — we are horrified but not surprised by the outpouring of shootings, harassment, threats and racial targeting. This type of experience was not one we imagined having when sending an application to this university, nor was it what was expected by faculty when they came to teach in a place revered for its sense of community — community, it seems, that is only important to the UA on paper. 

So to the people in power — the dean, the provost, the president — and all the others at this university who have the ability to make change both big and small, we urge you to listen. Stand up to violence and protect the students and faculty who have put their faith in the UA. After all, there is only so much you can ignore. 

Sophie Applin, Opinions Editor


Perhaps it is unwise for us to keep kicking up old flames when many believe them to have already settled into ashes. Perhaps it may be considered dramatic or childish to rehash such “old news,” to demand to be taken seriously in our desperate pleas for safety and respect. But, when the University of Arizona continues to choose inaction over response, when they continue to brush tangible concerns of safety to the side, fear only grows, and fear is not what was promised to us in all those glossy brochures. 

What was promised was belonging and security. What was implied was that the people in charge would look after interests other than their own. While this university may be fractured, a campus community is not dictated by the ones who sit behind their desks approving or denying campus-wide condolence emails. It is decided by the people who move through our streets, who protest for a better life, who don’t want to live in fear, so we will not stop demanding more from the UA. Students and faculty deserve better: we deserve action. 

The old flames that are not kicked up turn into giant fires that are difficult to extinguish and impossible to disregard. As students, we see this pattern often at the UA as it trickles down to our campus life. Alongside our fear grows an increasing stream of anger. Anger for what we thought was owed to us during our college experience — a sense of safety and a sense of community. At the very least, a sense of being heard. Unfortunately, it seems as if those expectations are unrealistic. Continuous lack of action and growing feelings of fear are elements we as students have become rather acclimated to.

This is not a climate we want to live in. Neither should you. 

I was always taught that leaders guide with action and not words. As students and as young people, we look to these leaders for assistance as we navigate the various ups and downs of our growing adulthood. Naturally, I stuck to this belief when earlier this year, my phone number and personal information were purposefully leaked to over 100,000 people by a student at the UA. As my phone was bombarded with countless threats of both death and rape, I felt comforted by my trust of those in positions of power. I speak for both myself and the numerous other victims of harassment at the UA when I can now only describe that trust in the university as foolish. 

RELATED: We trusted the process, and the process failed us

The UA Dean of Students Office was made aware of my situation immediately, and I once again was consoled by the promise of action. Both I and the Daily Wildcat shared every ounce of proof I had of the innumerable and indisputable threats to my safety and well-being with the university. With this, I was told that it would all be reviewed. I was told how sorry the UA was that this was happening to me. I was told that the UA takes these matters seriously. I was told that my safety is important. I believed in the action promised because I believed in the integrity of leadership.

Like so many others who voiced their concerns to the UA, I was left with nothing but disappointment and false bravado. It is almost unfathomable to understand why both mine and so many others’ pleas to be taken seriously were not deemed as worthy enough of a proper reaction from the university. 

As a young female, I found myself wondering why the obscene and misogynistic threats to my safety were not enough for the UA to take action. I wondered why it felt like I had to beg them to take me seriously, to listen. While I wish they were, the “apologies” were not sufficient for the violence I endured. They were certainly not sufficient for Thomas Meixner, nor were they sufficient for Kai Leigh Harriott. The only appropriate response to violence within a community is action. It is a shame that seems to have gone over the heads of those it should matter to most.

My experience at the UA has stolen my faith in proper academic leadership and with it took my sense of security, safety and belonging. However unfortunate, I feel comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this feeling. I still believe in the integrity engraved within leadership, just not through this university. Despite the horrific events of this past semester, whether pertaining to myself or not, I take solace in what I have learned. The old flames that we kick up are the same ones that cultivate and simmer inside of us. As we ignite these old flames, we can burn a path guiding us to change. 

Olivia Krupp, opinions writer


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