• Lillie Burke

Want to be heard? You’ve gotta speak up

The victory lap of my college career is finally coming to a close. I have three gray hairs, two apartment applications, and one insatiable urge to knit.  Aside from my 11 o’clock bedtime and frequent back pain, age has given me distance from and perspective about the Belmont community.

I know you’re upset that tuition dollars are turned into roses, that sprinklers run when it’s raining and you can’t drink a Bud Light Lime on campus even though you’re 21—at least that’s how I’ve heard it said. But I have a hard time believing that if we had a browned out, barren campus with kegs abounding, there would be any more contentment.  Speaking as a grievance guilty gal, I think the root is much deeper than simply parking problems or construction blasts.

I recently covered the Belmont smoking ban for Channel 2 and it was shocking to me how many people were opposed. Students who previously complained about smoking on campus seemed ready to pick up the habit for themselves.

But the reasoning didn’t click until weeks later in a conversation. A friend who shared smoker’s sentiments told me, “it’s not like I love smoking, I just oppose Belmont.”

The discontent is so much bigger than smoking or sprinklers or bottled water.

When Belmont officials decided to discontinue bottled water sales on campus back in 2009, I remember writing the story. There was nothing bad about the initiative; in fact, it was a huge step toward becoming a green campus—and an easy one. But people were still opposed, not to Belmont’s effort to go green—I mean our student body is the epitome of eco-friendly.

Students were upset because they had no say in the decision, because they were given what felt like decrees rather than mutual agreements. In my experience at Belmont, students don’t jump on board initiatives they feel they have no control over.

By senior year, it seems as if a simple eye roll and shoulder shrug count as an elaborate contest to a new policy.

But just four years prior, sitting in front of the Bell Tower, we “became Belmont” upon hearing the late Dr. Herbert Gabhart’s words, “This college is your college.”

As a TT leader, I was challenged to “be all in.” As I look back at my college career, I would say I accepted.  I invested so much time into student organizations that have shaped me into who I am today and am so blessed by professors who have been fully committed to help me become a professional.

So I return that challenge to Belmont to “be all in.”

Before Ball State University passed its smoking ban last spring, the president sent it through SGA and held a school-wide vote, not because she had to, but because she wanted the student’s approval behind her.

I wonder what Belmont would look like if apathy were transformed into ownership?

I think it’s time to take the plastic off the sofa and let it get a little dirty.

Cassidy Hodges, managing editor of the Vision, is a senior journalism major.

#opinion

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