By: Sophia Orejola
Speak Truth to Power is a new student organization at Western Connecticut State University that is dedicated to building awareness of basic human rights to students on campus. On Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, Speak Truth to Power held their first event, “#TellUsWhyYouMad”, in Warner Hall Conference Room 103 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Speak Truth to Power’s stated aim is to inspire and empower students to take an initiative in addressing several issues they may have towards the school. The organization is based off of Speak Truth to Power in School, a national movement started by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights to encourage people to end and prevent human rights abuses in any setting.
“#TellUsWhyYouMad” provided students with an opportunity to discuss their concerns regarding campus affairs and security as members of a focus group. The event also provided an opportunity to meet members of Speak Truth to Power’s Executive Board and learn more about the new organization.
During the event, students addressed a variety of topics related to how the campus is run and how campus affairs can be improved. One such issue was the safety protocols on campus enacted during the “shelter in place” that occurred on November 20, 2018, after the school received reports of a person with a gun in Westside’s Visual Performing Arts Center.
Students who attended also discussed concerns regarding maintenance on both the Midtown and Westside Campuses, particularly a water break that occurred on the Westside Campus in the past.
They also voiced their concerns on a variety of other campus affairs such as transparency between the school and the students, management of the Health Service and the Office of Diversity and Equity, and even shuttle transportation between campuses.
Participants also raised concerns regarding the level of transparency between the university and the students. Many of the students felt that university-wide announcements, including campus-wide events and emergency notifications, are either made public much later than desired or sometimes never even made public.
Additionally, concerns about the quality of the management of the available services on campus were discussed. For instance, students believe that the campus’s Health Services do not provide adequate medical treatment to students; this had been a problem for students who became ill while on campus. In addition, the university’s Office of Diversity and Equity was seen by participating students as poorly managed; students who are part of minority groups felt ignored since the Office’s constant postponement or cancellation of events or services.
Even the shuttle transportation provided by the university to travel between the Midtown and Westside campuses raised concerns for some students who claimed that the shuttle schedule is sometimes unreliable disregarding circumstances from inclement weather. In addition, some students felt that the Danbury R.R Station near the Midtown campus should be a guaranteed stop instead of having to ask the driver; this was a concern for students who would use the train to go home from Danbury.
Speak Truth to Power will hold another event called “STPinney After Hours” on March 1 from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. in the Pinney Hall main lounge.
Students who are interested in the organization can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and follow them on Instagram @SpeakTruthPowerWCSU.