Posting fliers represents student engagement

Recently, a student posted paper fliers on several engineering school flat screens, decrying the technology for wasting money and energy. The fliers were summarily removed twice, but it’s apparent that the point did not go unheeded: The engineering school has since limited the hours that the flat screens are turned on to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

We commend the University for taking the student’s argument into account, and we appreciate the change in policy. However, when justifying the use of the screens in the first place, Nick Benassi, an associate dean of the engineering school, mentioned that the screens are not only used to inform current students but also to give prospective students on tours easy access to information about activities at the engineering school.

We feel that prospective students ought to know about campus happenings, and insofar as this strategy is effective, we support it. However, the flat screens in the DUC, Whispers, business school and engineering buildings reveal a larger trend at the University with regard to student speech and advertisings: Oftentimes, student groups must unnecessarily go through the administration to advertise and promote their events. In addition, an official Student Union logo is required on any SU student group flier.

Of course, student groups are funded through the University-mandated Student Activities Fee in the first place, and the system of central coordination makes student groups effective and efficient. However, flat screens and SU logos make it appear—to prospective students as well as current ones—that all student activities are formally controlled and coordinated by the University, which detracts from the legitimate efforts of independent students. When we must submit a request through the administration to promote an event, we risk forgetting about our ability to organize on our own terms.

With the incipient movement of the South 40 to all modern dorms and the gradual replacement and renovation of older buildings, many students would argue that the University is beginning to lose a sense of authentic collegiate appeal. Our campus environment is polished and attractive, but the key component of a University experience is the student body. While the current system makes it appear as though every organ runs perfectly within the organization of SU groups and the University at large, we must keep in mind that there remain improvements to be made organically by students and the groups they form.

We attend a University where the environment is comfortable to a fault, where we think of ourselves as existing in a nearly perfectly coordinated bubble. The existence of flat screens and the requirement of SU logos are symbolic representations of this central coordination. However, we owe it to ourselves to continually question and alter this environment on our own terms. The student who put up the fliers in the first place is a shining example of someone who is able to do so, and we encourage others to question policy in the same vein.

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