Let’s not make any bones about it: the atmosphere at Montclair State University right now is pretty tense. On campus, it sometimes feels as though the air could be cut with a knife, especially after everything students have faced.
Sexual assault, religious exemption bans for dormers, parking, the coronavirus (COVID-19), protestors — it’s been an intense year back so far. None of these struggles are truly unique to Montclair State; they affect all colleges on some level. But what makes them stand out is the way in which the student body has responded to these issues and raised awareness.
Both in real life and on social media, students have fought hard to raise awareness and demand action from the university. It was Montclair State students who called on The Montclarion to continue covering the sexual assault reports. The Montclarion serves to amplify student voices, and we could not do the work we do without their clear and consistent support.
It is easy to stay silent and complacent in times of hardship and discomfort, but that doesn’t make it right. Students here have never chosen the easy way.
When a hate group came to campus in January, a counter-protest formed within minutes and students stayed there for hours. Not only did they display profound regard and compassion by defending those whom the hate group came to denounce, but they also did it with humor, weaponizing joy against the vitriol being spewed at them.
This takes courage at any age, but it’s especially inspiring to see so many up-and-coming citizens of the world standing up for what they believe in. There are still so many places where the kind of rhetoric espoused by that hate group is the norm. As hard as it is to fathom, it makes what happened on campus that cold January day even more powerful.
Given the current circumstances, it’s also remarkable that students even found the time and energy to respond the way they did.
Even after two years of COVID-19, more often than not, students have continued to do whatever it takes to keep each other safe. Despite the mask mandate still active on campus, some have chosen not to wear masks indoors. But more have continued to do so, and their efforts have not gone to waste.
As of March 31, the COVID-19 Dashboard reports just 25 student cases on campus, and it hasn’t reached over 100 since the very beginning of the year. That couldn’t have happened without the continued efforts of the student body.
Contracting COVID-19 may not be as frightening of a prospect as it used to be, but it still carries the possible burden of lost income and missed classes. Regardless of whether the motivation to wear a mask stems from self-preservation, compassion for others or some combination of the two, it has the same effect of keeping others from getting sick.
You may be reading this and thinking, “Wow, are we really congratulating people for doing the bare minimum? Does everyone get a gold star just for being a decent human being? Yikes.”
And you might have a point. Many people have complained that is one of the worst things about our generation: too many participation awards and congratulations handed out for anything at all.
But the reality is that practicing basic human decency does not come naturally to everyone. There are a lot of truly awful people out there doing horrible things as you skim this page. If there weren’t, there would be no need for the sexual assault awareness protest.
The list of other awful things impacting us all on a national and global scale would probably take up an entire article of its own, and absolutely no one would want to read it.
So what’s wrong with a little positive reinforcement as the world seemingly burns around us? Holding people accountable for the good they do is important, too.
With that being said, The Montclarion would like to thank the students of Montclair State who have done their part to make this campus and this world a slightly brighter place. We see you and we appreciate you.