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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Brother Jed sets example

Since last week, our campus has been blessed with the presence of Brother Jed, an evangelist who has preached on college campuses in all 50 states. He’s condemned millions of students to hell for their foolishness and made erotic gestures with his fingers to emphasize the purpose of sex. His presence is one that is felt throughout campus and his visibility is never doubted. If I were to give him a grade on transparency and messaging, he would get a grade only the holy presence upstairs could grant.

Brother Jed has become such an effective voice on our campus because he doesn’t just sit at a table out on the mall with a listserv clipboard. He shouts at the top of his lungs. He calls us out for our flaws and decision-making. He holds us each accountable for our actions. He holds us accountable for what we do, and most importantly, for what we don’t do.

Now, I’m not a religious person in the framework of organized religions, nor am I advocating for what he preaches. Instead, I’m a huge believer in the effectiveness of transparent grassroots organizing for defining a message, especially when it comes to the rights of students. When I say organizing, I mean creating a collective group of individuals passionate about change, developing a plan to recruit and brainstorming a strategy to demand attention to an issue, with strong emphasis on passion and attention.

When it comes to our own campus, passion isn’t to be doubted. But when it comes to grabbing the attention of those who make decisions for us and, recently, against us, I’m ashamed to say that more people know who Brother Jed is and what he stands for than they do of groups or organizations that can mobilize students on our campus.

For instance, the Arizona Students’ Association had a kick-off event on Feb. 2 to highlight their goals on fighting tuition increases and budget cuts. Affordability and accessibility are among those visions for higher education.

On Feb. 17, ASA held their 34th annual Lobby Day at the Arizona Capitol, taking more than 100 students with them and holding about 60 meetings with representatives at the state level. In the past, they’ve even been bold enough to even take signs with them, chants and actual goals to raise money for scholarships.

ASA has 34 years of experience attending Lobby Day. Two years back, thousands of students from all three state universities gathered at the Capitol to march against a projected 40 percent increase in tuition. ASA organized that march. And when students remember that day, but aren’t feeling the urgency of now, we’ve got to ask: Where did that energy go?

That’s where we lose interest in Brother Jed. He never escalates his tactics. We can always expect him to be out on the Mall, in front of the Administration building, shouting at students. We hear him, yes, but his effectiveness fails because we know it’s the same delivery with the same message.

The same goes for Lobby Day. We’ve had 3,000 students go up to the Capitol in the past, and only got 100 this year. It’s a sign we’ve got to pump out that grassroots organizing. We’ve got to take a campus-wide field trip, mandated by our own president, to save our education. When ASA says they want to reach out to student organizations, we’ve got to feel the call for civic responsibility and be a collective voice.

The Arizona Board of Regents wants to pass a policy removing student input in decision-making. They even want to remove sections of their hearing processes where students can voice their oppositions. These are all issues upon which we’ve got to mobilize. Gov. Jan Brewer plans on cutting $170 million from higher education. Isn’t that an issue? The dangerous unawareness of our own student body could keep the Capitol from ever hearing our voice.

— Elisa Meza is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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