Letter From the Editor: Student Activism: What’s the Point?

Olivia Silvey

Editor-in-Chief

Welcome back, Bantams. We are now almost two weeks into the spring semester, although I’m sure all of you — students, staff and faculty alike — already have plenty of work to dig into. We at the Tripod have had our work cut out for us as well; there’s a lot to catch up on since our last issue on Nov. 7. The genocide in Gaza sickeningly continues, and the U.S. can’t seem to stop stirring the pot in places we don’t belong (AKA, the Middle East). Student climate activists across the nation are fighting tooth and nail for voters to recognize and reject oily politicians (quite literally). Even beyond young people, laborers spanning various countries and industries — transportation, education, journalism, healthcare and more — are striking to demand fair, humane, livable treatment. We are at a pivotal point in history.

But history doesn’t happen in strange foreign countries that we only see on the New York Times app. It happens right here on our own campus. Since our last issue on Nov. 7, Trinity students have organized two walkouts and a sit-in, and produced a list of demands in the context of the continuing genocide (which are published on our website under “Opinion,” if you’re curious). Students are turning plenty of tides just outside of your Jarvis window, and we have done our best to document it.

I believe that is why we, the Tripod, are here. A few weeks ago I was chatting with the rest of our Executive Board, Managing Editors Savannah Brooks and Jules Bourbeau (my lifelines). We were discussing coverage of the various actions on campus, and Savannah said, “if we don’t publish it, it might as well have never happened.” She said it so casually, but it has really stuck with me. The big moments on campus like graduation or a NESCAC championship will be written about on Trinity’s website or in the Reporter; people will post dozens of pictures and a few will be lucky enough to make it to the Trinity Instagram. But what about the moments that not everyone wants to look at, to document, to celebrate? What about the events that the College, or even plenty of its residents, want to hide away?

This is why the Tripod exists, and I recognize our uniquely privileged position that allows us to share both the celebrated and the shamed parts of our college experience. More importantly, this position puts us in a place of responsibility: what to share, when, how? This is what brought me to the idea of this special edition, which highlights student activism at Trinity through the years.

Trinity is not typically known for being ‘first.’ Any alumni or professor I’ve ever talked to has said Trinity usually comes around to doing what other colleges do, just 30 years late (an administrator would never tell me this, by the way). But, two things: one, first is not always the best — journalism has taught me that — and there is something to be said of learning from our peers. Two, this reputation only makes it more necessary to keep up this momentum we currently have. This special edition, highlighting various issues and methods of student activism by our own predecessors, hopes to do that. Those of us walking around on this campus should understand how this place came to be, and many of those answers lie in the following pages, because of passionate students. Trinity has always been passionate, and we should continue to be.

This special edition also aims to answer a few questions that circulated last semester during the walkouts and protests. What is the point of a protest, a walkout, a list of demands, a solidarity week? Is it effective? Do these idiots think that just because they walk out of class on a random Thursday that Israel will stop bombing hospitals, schools, homes, and people in Gaza?

Anyone who has a semi- developed brain realizes that there is not a direct correlation between a walkout at Trinity and Israel’s bombs. But this truth doesn’t mean these methods aren’t effective in another very important way. Trinity does not exist in a void, and the choices the institution makes affect more people than just the ones you see on your walk to the library every night.

In this special edition, each article shows us a point in time where Trin students did mobilize, and in many cases, made something happen. In 1968, students held a 32 hour long sit-in to push the Board of Trustees to create a Black scholarship fund; the fund was created. In 2007, students rallied around Mather employees to prevent Chartwells from cutting employee hours; they were successful. Last semester, students protested outside of President Joanne Berger-Sweeney’s office with a list of demands, including the appointment of a new Director of Muslim Life at the College; this past Sunday, Feb. 4, the Muslim Students Association held a town hall asking for feedback on what students want to see in a new Director.

Of course, there is always more work to be done. We aren’t finished yet. As you read this special edition, I hope you’ll see that these moments above aren’t the only examples of how powerful students are in facilitating change on campus.

And not only do I hope this special edition provides examples, but I hope it spurs you into action. What do you care about? More importantly, what is something that many people care about, that the entire community (Trinity and beyond) could benefit from? Now, after picking up this issue, you do not have the excuse that organizing “doesn’t work.” Here are 24 reasons that it does, and 24 ways that it could. Take inspiration and action from your fellow Trinity students in the following pages. They are not so much different than you.

-OPS

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3Comments

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  1. 1
    The Tripod Supports Terrorism

    The Tripod has become a failed newspaper. Not even Fox News has stooped to this level of incompetence. The Tripod now promotes the opinions of its Editors as “news.” Once again the staff fails to mention Hama’s role in starting this war by murdering over 1000 Israelis. This particular editor Oliva even downplayed the reports of rape on October 7th which have been confirmed by the New York Times10 Days after the attack by the Terrorist group Hamas by stating “For days, reports that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, was beheading babies and raping women in the streets circulated everywhere. These reports were, and still are, weaponized against people speaking out in support of the Palestinian people and their fight for freedom – if someone said Free Palestine, that now meant they supported beheading and rape.” (https://trinitytripod.com/opinion/page_two/letter-from-the-editors-israel-and-palestine-split-editorial/) Does the Tripod care about Jewish People? Will the Tripod report that Hamas has denied multiple ceasefire proposals? Will the Tripod continue to hide the identities of Anti-Semites on Campus and work as a mouthpiece for their agenda? The answer is yes as long as this group continues to run the Tripod into the ground as they sensationalize a complex geopolitical issue while making it about themselves. As a Trinity community, it is time to call this paper what it is: The editor’s personal magazine.

  2. 3
    Karl Jiménez

    —> “We are at a pivotal point in history.”
    You don’t know that. I don’t know that. No one does for sure. Only time (and history) will tell.
    The more rational and objective language used should have been: “We might be at a pivotal point in history.”
    And if you actually knew any history, you would have known that this moment in time is very similar to how it was in the late 1970’s (inflation, global crises, climate change, wars and fears of war, political polarization, crime waves, technological revolutions, etc.).
    In many ways, it was worse. But we survived it, and the 1970’s turned out not to be a “pivotal point in history”.

    ——————
    —> “Anyone who has a semi- developed brain realizes that there is not a direct correlation between a walkout at Trinity and Israel’s bombs.”
    Anyone who reads this will clearly understand that you are throwing an insult to many of your readers. You are actually calling them stupid.
    You are the editor of a newspaper, yet this is blatantly below the ethical standards of responsible and objective journalism.

    ——————
    —> “But history doesn’t happen in strange foreign countries that we only see on the New York Times app. It happens right here on our own campus.”
    That sentence doesn’t even make sense. I don’t know if it’s because it is so poorly worded, or because of your plain ignorance.
    Also: “strange foreign countries”? Tell me, what so strange about foreign countries? Strange to who?
    As an immigrant to the US, I was once called “a dirty foreigner”. Your comment seems to illustrate that same kind of bigotry and xenophobia.

    ——————
    —> “What about the events that the College, or even plenty of its residents, want to hide away?”
    The fact that Trinity allows the Tripod to remain independent and student-run, capable of publishing all these articles and opinion pieces on their own, seems to defeat your claim.
    And if the Trinity administration is in some way meddling with the editorial autonomy of the Tripod, why don’t you say so? And provide irrefutable evidence of that.
    You are the editor, no? You would know better than anyone else.

    ——————
    You claim that articles discussing Palestinian genocide have been published as opinion pieces: “which are published on our website under “Opinion,” if you’re curious”
    Yet, you also state in that sentence: “Since our last issue on Nov. 7, Trinity students have organized two walkouts and a sit-in, and produced a list of demands in the context of the continuing genocide.”
    So, you stated the genocide of Palestinians as fact. And you did this not in an opinion piece, but in the role of the Tripod’s editor.
    Your article is, technically, an editorial. And the Tripod has in fact classified this under ‘Editorials’.

    ——————
    In the end, perhaps the logical and rhetorical failings of this article represent the failings of Trinity as an educational institution.
    It is simply astounding to read an editorial plagued by so many logical and journalistic deficiencies. And one would hope that, between all the global distribution courses, the Writing Center, the Writing Intensive requirements, etc., a Trinity student, and in particular the editor of the student newspaper, would exemplify higher standards of journalistic writing and intellectual rigor.
    But alas, clearly not.

    Or perhaps the Tripod has become corrupted to the core.
    Maybe it’s time for a new student newspaper to emerge and challenge the Tripod.

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