Students have the power to create a spark

North Wind Staff

Logging onto Facebook a few days ago, users were greeted with a headline that Northern Michigan University was trending with over 2,000 people talking about it.

editorial-cartooonThis is truly a lot of social media posts about NMU — But why?

Because students took action.

In November 2015, NMU received backlash on social media from students and families regarding the email concerning students struggling with self-harm facing disciplinary action if they chose to talk about it with friends or other students.

In under a week, over 2,000 Wildcats signed a petition, named the “I Care Project” to change this policy.

In response, NMU stated that the uproar had been heard and that the university “welcomes the opportunity to improve its processes and policies to serve the best interest of its students while upholding our ethical and legal responsibilities” and encouraged students to speak to ASNMU or the Dean of Students Office and provide their input on the situation.

Recently, NMU is facing criticism from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) for impeding on students’ First Amendment rights and never publicly acting upon the policy change.

This is what sparked the trending issue on Facebook: students and NMU families saw the conflict and responded to it.

One spark of attention — whether it’s from a single student sharing a personal email or headlines from FIRE about an issue — is crucial to change things.

That single spark is how issues are solved.

Students often forget the power of their voice and let something negative continue. Things that need to be fixed are not even considered until they begin getting enough attention.

NMU’s going through a lot of changes right now, including budget cuts, construction, renovation and redesign proposals. Our voices and power as students extend to this as well. We need to keep voicing our opinion and actively ensuring that the university keeps the information and decision-making on campus transparent.

This power to act and create change is important for the wellbeing and health of current students and faculty, as well as incoming Wildcats or alumni. Students coming together and standing up for what they believe in puts the power in their hands.