It takes a spark to ignite a flame.
But what if, sometimes, one single spark is not good enough? Do you stop trying to light the fire, or do you continue your attempts?
In today’s social climate, it seems as if “slacktivism” is the norm. People will become emotionally attached to a social issue for a whole 24 hours, post about it on their social media pages and feel satisfied. They will feel like they’ve made a difference.
Complacency is the new norm.
But change doesn’t occur with a complacent mindset. It is important to recognize that major change often starts from the bottom and works its way up.
If the “little guys” don’t turn up the heat, the people in power won’t feel the need to budge from their comfortable seats in the penthouse.
The #MeToo movement went viral in October 2017, raising awareness of the frequency of sexual harassment and abuse. #MeToo is an awareness campaign. It gives voices to the voiceless, sparking greater conversation and institutional change.
But #MeToo cannot simply be used on its own. Awareness does not equate to action.
Because of #MeToo, influential icons in the entertainment industry created the “Time’s Up” movement to actively combat sexual assault. Big names like Amy Poehler, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey have started a fund to provide survivors of sexual assault with legal assistance, allowing them to bravely stand up to their predators and use their voices to speak about their experiences.
Another pop icon, Kesha, recently used the #MeToo campaign in her 2018 Grammy Awards performance to expose her former producer Dr. Luke for alleged emotional abuse, drugging and sexual assault.
Thankfully, other stars and major influencers are using their positions of power and highly populated platforms to challenge powerful figures and administrations who sit complicit in these allegations.
In this regard, the spark has turned into a small flame. But it’s not big enough, yet.
Administrations’ inherent practices will not change unless we turn our concerns into action. People in positions of power need to get on board with the condemnation of immoral and illegal practices.
It is time to stop sweeping sketchy behavior under the rug.
Time’s Up is one powerful form of action used to combat a severe societal malpractice, but it might not have been launched had it not been for the voices that spoke up using #MeToo.
Those who fall on the bottom end of society’s hierarchical pyramid have gained confidence through their digital voices to express their thoughts and concerns in person. Social media is the catalyst used to call out powerful figures, who take advantage of their status. But change doesn’t happen with a single post.
It is no longer acceptable to allow administrations and institutions to be complicit regarding injustices. Whether or not you are involved in an act of discrimination or sexual assault, it is still your responsibility to demand answers and action.
How else will change happen?
It is not enough to merely acknowledge that something is wrong. Saying something, doing something — this is how change is made.
As members of the Lehigh community, complacency regarding administrative decisions is unacceptable. It is time to question and challenge institutional stagnancy.
We are not just students. We are future executives, leaders and change-makers. As such, it is time to fully ignite the flame. We must take a page out of Amy Poehler, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and the rest of the action takers’ books. We must challenge the people at the top making suspicious decisions.
It is important to question everything.
Ask questions like, why did the administration only directly inform faculty and staff about professor James Braxton Peterson’s sexual misconduct?
Why hasn’t the student body been given more information? How long did this go on for? How many people were affected and haven’t received justice?
Why aren’t we as students demanding the answers to these questions?
At this point in time, if we as students don’t push against complicity, the administration will not change. A flame can’t light itself.
We can make a difference if we throw away our apathy, demand answers from the administration and provoke a change. We all have the power to hold decision-makers accountable.