What an adventure.
Looking back over the past eight months at the Torch, it’s hard to believe how much has happened and filled these pages.
When this school year began back in August, Rick Perry had just declared his candidacy, and Michele Bachmann won the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. Boy, have things changed. It’s been a fun and infuriating race, and the GOP has finally and ambivalently settled for Mitt.
This was a year of activism.
Occupy Wall Street began on September 17 and spread to over 1,500 cities around the world. Protesters were upset: they weren’t quite sure about what, except that it had something to do with big corporations and money and politics and money in politics. But it was a chance to be a part of something exciting, something that may or may not define our generation.
Here in Nashville, Occupiers settled in Legislative Plaza on October 7 and stuck around until they were forced to shut down on March 9. Along the way, there were fifty-five arrests and an ACLU lawsuit, but the movement was otherwise well-organized and -established.
As the Arab Spring continued to take shape, the Middle East was riddled with protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. In Spain and Greece, citizens rallied against their failing economy. In Russia, the commencing of election season—defined by rampant ballot-rigging—brought thousands to the streets in sixty cities.
Time Magazine named “The Protester” 2011’s person of the year.
On campus, Vanderbilt students also made this year a year of activism.
A year’s worth of letter-writing, prayer and praise gatherings, radio ads, white t-shirts, closed meetings with administrators, and open town hall meetings culminated in a bold move last week by Vandy Solidarity. Twelve religious organizations—the eleven of Vandy Solidarity plus Vandy Catholic—have publicly acknowledged that they do not expect to receive registered student organization status for the 2012-2013 school year, defying the administration’s current interpretation of the University’s non-discrimination policy in their constitutions.
Elsewhere, students have rallied for a more responsible endowment, dining workers’ rights, Trayvon Marton, and a little movement called #Kony2012. Oh yes. And for those crows.
The Torch has tried its best to keep up with these movements—both here in Nashville and around the world—because they all affect us somehow in some way. It’s when we find those connections that the world around us begins to take on meaning.
When we begin to see how the actions of others ripple outward and eventually reach us standing on the far shore, we are challenged to consider how our own actions affect others.
And it’s with those considerations in mind that we begin to make decisions with awareness and purpose.
We shy away from the cliché of thinking that we can change the world. But it’s true—we can! In our own worlds, our own circles of influence, we can be that change we want to see. And as our worlds intersect with other worlds, our influence expands, eventually reaching the global community.
I hope that this school year, the Torch has encouraged or assisted you toward that goal of global awareness and involvement. I hope that we provided original viewpoints on relevant issues. And above all, I hope that the existence and content of the publication sparked dialogue.
Thanks for reading.