OPINION: Marginalized students should acquire leadership roles across campus

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(Archive photo by John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Charter for Compassion defines a marginalized community member as someone who is undeserved, disregarded, ostracized, harassed, persecuted or sidelined in the surrounding community.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Immigrants
  • Refugees
  • Migrants
  • Women/girls
  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Children/youth
  • People of differing sexual orientation and genders (LGBTQ+ community)
  • People of differing religions
  • Developmentally delayed
  • Physically disabled
  • Mentally ill
  • Incarcerated people and their families
  • People released from Incarceration
  • People of low socioeconomic status
  • Unemployed people
  • People of a particular ethnicity or country of origin
  • People with a differing political orientation

At Kansas State, we have members of each of the communities mentioned above, and even more. K-State prides itself on being an inclusive and equitable university.

However, throughout the last few years, there were numerous instances of bigotry and hatred on campus that argue otherwise.

From white nationalist posters posted across the campus in 2017 to the vandalization of the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center in February, there have been many cases where students in marginalized groups have felt unwelcome at K-State.

Unfortunately, every time these instances happen, the only response marginalized students receive are shallow words from the administration, governing bodies and organizations at K-State. Strict actions are never taken to ensure student safety, especially when it comes to students in marginalized communities.

The pressure to solve all these problems while figuring out college falls on students of marginalized identities. Fighting these battles on campus is not something these students do for fun, but because their lives depend on it — it is a fight for rightful survival.

Nevertheless, the question arises — though students have already done so much, what more can they do to bring a substantial change?

The answer is simple — get involved.

Unfortunately, we have reached a point where marginalized students need to seize, snatch and obtain higher leadership roles across the campus — either by hook or crook. It is time all of us who fall into the aforementioned marginalized category get ourselves involved in every ISO, DSO, governing body and committee across K-State.

A majority of K-State’s President’s Cabinet is made up of Caucasian people, heterosexual people and people over 45. Some cabinet members always make an effort to connect with students on a grassroots level, for which we love and appreciate them. However, we never see the others.

No matter how much the members deny it, implicit bias and being oblivious to millennial and Gen Z students’ current situation clouds their judgment. There is nothing wrong with it; these are facts. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that students, especially students from marginalized groups, take power across campus.

We have a decent amount of students from marginalized groups at K-State and we need to utilize our numbers for our benefit. All students from marginalized groups should start applying to various organizations at K-State.

When it comes to Student Governing Association — students from marginalized groups should start a coalition of supporting each other’s causes. We can run to be a student senator in student senate, a director position in the cabinet, the position of the attorney general and deputy attorney general as well as other positions in the judicial branch of SGA. Multiple students from marginalized communities should not only run for these positions next year, but also run for Student Body President.

Students from marginalized communities should overwhelmingly apply for organizations such as the K-State Student Alumni Board, Student Foundation, College Ambassadors, College Councils, etc. If all of us apply, surely a majority of us would get selected in the organization. We could bring a progressive change around inclusivity and equity in these organizations.

Marginalized students should also rush for Greek life and make their presence heard in the part of university life that essentially controls the majority of our university. Many organizations have a bias for choosing Greek life individuals over others. Therefore, if marginalized students become a part of Greek life, a door of opportunities to get involved on campus can be opened.

When it comes to honorary organizations, marginalized students should again apply overwhelmingly and ensure they get selected. Whether it’s a freshman, sophomore, senior or junior honorary society, it is time we believe in ourselves and apply to all these organizations. We are brilliant enough and involved enough to get selected in these organizations.

Marginalized students should also create new organizations on campus that can act as safe spaces of inclusivity. Along with that, making sure we support each other’s organizations is extremely important.

Whether it’s in academics, community service, academic competitions, fraternities, sororities, honorary, political or sports clubs, marginalized students need to make their presence felt, visible and heard.

When choosing to fill any vacant position, even the administration should specifically market to members of marginalized communities and encourage them to apply to said positions.

A quote from the popular tv show “Game of Thrones” says, “There is no justice in this world, not unless we make it.”

It is time we create our justice. It is time we acquire and seize power and leadership across campus and bring much-needed reformative change to make our campus more inclusive and equitable.

French poet Victor Hugo once said, “not being heard is no reason for silence.” It is time we make ourselves heard, loud and clear.

Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a Collegian contributor and a senior in management information systems and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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