When you witness a piece of protest that upsets you, do you make your voice heard or do you keep on walking?
The Oracle’s lead news story today focuses on the very visible display of activism on the office window of a graduate student. The message? Iraqi civilians are dying in a war, the media isn’t doing a great job of reporting it and students are too preoccupied with their own lives to care. These sentiments are conveyed in a display of the number of Iraqi civilians who have died in the war. Wendy King, the graduate student mentioned in the story, was inspired by the business and preoccupation in her own life, and decided to draw attention to something most students probably don’t think about.
Unfortunately, after more than a year, she received few responses.
The display must have pissed off some students. Why haven’t they spoken up?
An even more pressing question is, if there was no response, is there a purpose to the display?
As an office neighbor to King, Jeanine Minge has witnessed a “visceral response” from students who seemed outraged at the message. She thinks that the power imbalance between students and grad students or professors keeps people from responding to King directly. Maybe there is a better way for King to send out her message, perhaps one that is more accessible and “user friendly.” Maybe a dry-erase board on her door, or a drop box for comments.
Despite the quiet reactions, seeing a display of protest is a breath of fresh air. It means some of us are thinking outside of ourselves and want others to do the same. And it’s hard, when dealing with such a touchy issue, to not have it make you think just a little bit.
It’s up to students to make a protest meaningful. If you don’t like it, say something. Strike up a dialogue – with King, with your friends, with your professor, with anyone. (Respectfully, of course.) Protest can easily be a launching pad for one to expand his/her mind, and to make a message a learning experience.
In a building that consists of departments of communication, a political display outside of one’s on doors should be expected.
In fact, it should be encouraged.