Following the announcement of a Missouri court’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson, the City of Ferguson police officer responsible for the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, SUNY New Paltz students rallied in protest in front of the campus’ University Police Department condemning what they believed to be an injustice.
We at The New Paltz Oracle laud the students’ passion on this pressing issue, having united under a common cause for what they believe is right. We also commend the organizers and demonstrators for remaining civil and peaceful in their actions at a time when emotions and tensions were high, especially considering other protests around the country which have taken a destructive turn.
When individuals feel personally connected to an event it is easy to be caught in the moment and take rash action. However, this often makes matters worse and takes away from the issue at hand. We are thankful the students were aware of this and expressed their feelings in a way that can be absorbed by outside bodies without resorting to extreme measures.
It is vitally important to utilize our democratic right of expressing personal beliefs. This is most critical when your moral convictions of right and wrong are being challenged. We are glad to see that students stay informed on current issues they feel are significant and are willing to participate in their progress toward change. This is among the best ways to have your voice as an individual be known and make a difference.
When these individual voices join in unison for a specific cause, the result is amplified. Organizers of the protest said it was the largest attended event they have ever seen during their time at New Paltz. Going forward, we hope that students will inform themselves on multiple social issues and that a large scale national incident is not the only time they decide to be involved in the discussion.
Nowadays, people often engage with social media to share what is on their mind and topics such as this are no exception. However, the end result is no more than a text rant posted into the aether, evading the face-to-face discussion and engagement crucial to inciting actual change. We commend New Paltz students for using social media as a tool to promote an actual physical response to the verdict as opposed to simply sitting behind a computer screen.
With only a couple of weeks remaining in the fall semester, we hope students will use the momentum of this event to continue advocating for their beliefs on this issue and not forget or ignore what has transpired just because college will no longer be in session. Leaders on campus should emphasize this sentiment with students and find means of keeping the discussion alive in students’ minds both over the winter break and when they return to campus in the spring.