Stand up and be heard: Don't let college pass silently by

After five years, this Saturday I will finally be a graduate of the University of Alabama.

In the five years I've been at this university, a lot of things have happened. A lot of things have changed.

Tuition has been on a consistent rise. The University hit 30,000 students. A group of Christians washed away the chalkings of the Atheists and Agnostics of Alabama student organization. Brother Micah came. Brother Micah stopped coming. We won national championships in football, cheerleading and gymnastics. Debates about the anti-discrimination policy happened all across campus. The CrimsonRide bus system was initiated.

In the town of Tuscaloosa, things changed.

Bad Ass Coffee changed to something I could never remember—changed to Strip Teas, changed to TCBY. My two favorite places to eat, Taco Gean and Arahova, and one of my least favorite places, Crimson Cafe, went out of business. We got Sunday alcohol sales. A tornado tore apart this city in a way that will take a long time and a lot of effort to recover from.

In this nation and this world, things changed.

We elected our first black president. Alabama elected Gov. Robert Bentley. Osama bin Laden was killed. Saddam Hussein was executed. Banks and car companies got big bailouts. North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. Pluto got demoted. The Writers Guild of America went on strike. Several states legalized gay marriage.

In my personal life, as I'm sure is true of almost everyone's personal lives, things have changed. I've had ups and downs, struggles and successes.

And that's how life is and always will be. Crazy things will happen. And sometimes, they will be things that make you upset or things you want to change.

So do it. Don't sit around. Try to make a change. Start a discussion. Spread accurate information and educate those who are ignorant of what's actually happening.

The first thing I ever wrote for The Crimson White was during my sophomore year here, four years ago. Homosexuality and homosexual marriage entered the opinions page and, along with them, the Bible. I wrote asking people to stop flinging Bible verses ignorantly because it was clear the majority of them had no idea what they were talking about.

I've written many things since then. Some have gone largely unnoticed. Many things I've written have gotten me compliments from people for my interesting, logical arguments. Many things I've written have also attracted a massive amount of ire, once for daring to suggest that the GPA system is outdated, inaccurate and needs to change, I was essentially called a frothing-at-the-mouth moron. Another time, I graded Lakeside Dining Hall and gave it a 78 out of 100. That got me into an hour long meeting with the top three people in the Bama Dining organization, one of whom was extremely irate since President Witt called him up to ask why a student graded the establishment so poorly.

The only change I've been able to physically see enacted because of my writings is a correction to the times listed on the door of Bryant Dining Hall. But others have made more obvious differences. Tray Smith's complaints about the management of Little Italy brought in a new management to the eatery, and it has become a very friendly environment, soon to start selling alcohol as originally planned. Even earlier, a student complained about the dangers of sidewalks when they were wet, and UA installed those little texture sections on the entrances and exits of the sidewalks.

I can personally guarantee that President Witt occasionally reads what is written in The Crimson White. It happened to me at least once, as I mentioned before. And even if President Witt doesn't read your complaints or concerns about the University, several professors read The CW, and may be in a position to be your advocate somehow, like in the Faculty Senate.

If this recent debt debacle has taught me anything other than we should kick a whole lot of people out of Congress for not having a clue as to how to do their jobs properly, it's taught me that people need to speak up for what they want. Demand change when change is warranted.

On Saturday, I'm leaving the University, and I may never again write for The CW. I may stick around Tuscaloosa, but the goings on of this campus won't concern me as much as they once did. But they should concern those of you who will be attending this school.

Always try to make things better. Never be satisfied with things you disagree with. Write, rally, petition, speak. But never let your years go silently by.

 

Sean Randall is a senior majoring in theatre and philosophy.

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