Now, more than ever, we need strong student voices

by Alan Lifson

As the times in which we live become more confused and dispiriting — seemingly favoring the rich and powerful at the expense of our democracy, constitution and our planet — one realizes how much we need our students.

When there are wrongs to be called out and justice demanded, students have always served as the voice of conscience for the rights of the many and compassion over indifference. The Obama and Sanders campaigns showed us that students could be a powerful and organizing force. I’ve seen their care and passions at local demonstrations, and with the rise of a current administration which seems bent on dismantling our most basic protections at home and responsibilities as global citizens, there is more need than ever for a broad-based, unified on-campus student movement and voice of non-violent, articulate action. As faculty and staff, many of us are there to support you.

Issues that need strong student voices are reducing climate change and supporting strong measures to limit its destructive effects; resisting anti-Muslim and anti-Latino draconian immigration restrictions; providing quality healthcare for all, not those only who can afford to pay for expensive insurance and drugs; and insuring that the right to vote is available to all and is not prohibited to those who might speak for the disadvantaged.

If life imitates art, in the Harry Potter world of J.K. Rowling, students played a key role in the Order of the Phoenix. It may seem like times are dark and hopeless, but with a strong voice and presence of a unified on-campus student movement, like the phoenix, we can rise from the ashes into a better world.

Alan Lifson

Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health

Editor’s Note: This letter has been edited slightly for grammar and spelling.