Sarah Dajani ’26
Gen Z has really intensified non-academic advocacy. From the iconic environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, to Aotearoa Liberation League, many social change movements are taking place outside of academia. If you have not yet heard of the Aotearoa Liberation League, it is a strong indication to stay in college and work your way through the system… or is it?
Aotearoa Liberation League is a decolonial justice initiative which highlights the intersectionality between social justice, animal liberation and rights and prison abolition from a decolonial perspective, based in Aotearoa (commonly called New Zealand). The founders are strong advocates of Te Pāti Māori, a political party in New Zealand that protects indigenous rights and lifestyle. The founders of ALL are highly critical of media coverage of the party’s activities and political campaigns. For example, in 2021 Te Pāti Māori submitted a petition that demands the government to change New Zealand’s official name to Aotearoa, a te reo Māori name for the country, and to “identify and officially restore the original te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places right across the country” over the next five years. Despite receiving 70,000 signatories, the petition barely got any national or international coverage.
How does this relate to your college degree? An explanation of the neglect Te Pāti Māori faces is rooted in the large threat it creates for settler colonies around the world. The mere naming of colonies follows from a tradition of European colonists either mistaking the geography of their surroundings or deciding to name where they have arrived after their birthplace, acting as a nostalgic connection to their home. New Zealand for example was named by a cartographer from the Dutch East India Company after the coastal province Zeeland in the Netherlands. You would expect a heavy presence of this tradition from New London to New York and throughout New England… So a petition to rename a colony symbolizes a step towards decolonization and therefore threatens the current ruling stratum. And in most cases, such petitions and demands are quickly silenced and shut down.
Consequently, many justice-seeking, driven students end up choosing to attend higher education to be able to navigate political and governmental systems from within, equipped with academic authority, language and connections. However, a college education ideally transcends one’s knowledge of a class’s content, grades and networking. Education stands for the ability to formulate arguments and critiques; a community that inspires you to absorb and produce knowledge. Having said that, higher education’s elitist and exclusive tradition makes it inaccessible by many bright critical thinkers. This is when having space distanced from academia is advantageous. One could argue that that same space frequently results in unfounded dehumanizing theories and hate speech. Although true, fallacious theories and speech are not limited to ‘free thinking’ spaces and are becoming increasingly popular within higher education – which is worse as the theorists exploit their institutions’ credibility.
If you run out of patience, I am saying that for the sake of your parents’ sanity and colleges’ existence, stay in school. It seems like you have a higher chance of changing the world or whatever or coming up with some fallacious theory with a college degree. You also get to use the word fallacious often.