Staff editorial: One year post-Stockley, student activism remains important as ever

One year ago today, Jason Stockley was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lavar Smith, thrusting St. Louis once again into the national spotlight amid a renewed debate about police brutality. The not-guilty verdict sent waves of anger and frustration across St. Louis and the nation—and it shed light on the issues of segregation, wealth disparity and violent crime that shape our city.

At the time, the Student Life editorial board recommended that you, the students, go out and fight for the values you believe in. We asked that you attend protests and use your powerful voices to inspire change—and boy, did you ever listen.

A year has passed since the Stockley verdict, but your voices still have so much power—and there is so much to keep fighting for.

Educate yourself on the systemic issues that face the St. Louis community, from the Delmar divide to gun violence—and find out more about local organizations like ArchCity Defenders that are working to tackle these issues.

Stand up for black students on campus the next time Social Programming Board picks a racist WILD artist, or there’s a protest in Bear’s Den or 10 students are racially profiled at a local restaurant.

Vote in the upcoming midterm elections to put people in office who will fight for what’s right. Keep politicians like Eric Greitens—our embattled ex-governor—out of our state’s most important seats.

Participate in existing movements right here on campus, too, from Title Mine to Fossil Free Wash U to Student Workers Alliance.

And if you need motivation, look no further than last year’s Title Mine movement. You noticed injustices in our University system, and you fought for change. You made posters. You wrote op-eds. You rallied. You put the full strength of your minds behind this movement, Wash. U. students, and you won. You got the administration to make tangible changes. And you’re not giving up with just that.

Remember: Activism can manifest in different ways. It can manifest in thousands strong protests or in soaring rally cries, but it can also manifest in providing quiet support. Whatever injustice you see, there’s probably someone else who notices it as well.

Few current Washington University students were in St. Louis when Michael Brown was murdered in 2014, and there’s a full class of freshmen who cannot recall the pain Stockley’s acquittal wreaked upon our campus and our city. But that doesn’t mean we cannot build on the progress made by alumni.

Learn from those who came before you. Join existing movements where existing movements exist. Actively engage with your campus and city.

Even when we’re not making national headlines for racial and socioeconomic divides, those tensions are still real. These issues affect people on a day-to-day basis.

The need for activism cuts deeper than the latest headline—and chances are, the same problems students were fighting about three years ago still exist.

So, got out and continue the fight.