Next week, we pause. Surrounded by smiling faces, by welcoming aromas, by an irresistible sense of well-being, we pause over our plates to offer words of gratitude, to acknowledge what we are lucky to have and what we are proud to be.
This year, we pause a second longer. We pause to reflect on events that have shaken the campus to its core, leaving students, administrators and millions around the nation questioning the University and what it stands for. We pause to reflect on the voices that have at once decried injustice and whispered hope. We pause to reflect on the long overdue abandonment of silence — for silence is anathema to the possibility of change.
It is all too easy to get overwhelmed by the negativity of the past few weeks, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge and give thanks for the strides that have been made in such a short time. Though much work remains to be done, President Salovey’s email represents an affirmation of the administration’s dedication to concrete reform. Perhaps just as encouraging is the students’ dedication — I, and I’m sure many of you, have been part of countless marches, teach-ins and suite discussions about the role of the individual at a time like this.
But while we should pause to reflect on the power of our voices, we should also reflect on the obligations we have beyond this campus. It is natural to prioritize our own issues over all else, but a student body like Yale’s has a duty to do better. The last two weeks have proven that we have the strength to incite change not only at Yale but also on campuses across the nation. But we can’t afford to stop there.
It reflects poorly on us when, after leveraging our social media capital to demand real change from the administration, the most we can do for France is to create a temporary profile picture. It is a worrying sign that, as we rally for change on campus, we say nothing about the need for change two hours south — a front page poll in The New York Times shows that half of New Yorkers are “barely getting by.” And as state governments in our country turn desperate Syrian refugees away, our campus has done little more than grumble, too caught up in the injustices we face to empathize with the injustices of others.
I do not mean to discredit the efforts of various organizations and individuals on campus to reach beyond Yale’s walls. But you can’t help but notice the conspicuous lack of outraged op-eds, of charged demonstrations and animated protests, of campuswide discussion and moves to make change on these issues. Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we ignore the struggles of others, even when those struggles run parallel to our own?
We have proven our power. We have made our voice heard. But we do a great disservice to the world when we choose to remain silent on topics that don’t fit in our bubble.
So as I pause this Thanksgiving, I will reflect not only what has happened, but what must happen beyond our campus gates. I will pause to consider my duty to expand my horizons and to cut through the silence. I will pause to give thanks for the platform, the peers and the resources that have been given to me, that ensure my voice can — and will— resonate beyond the University. And despite the tumult still raging and the changes that must follow, I will pause to give thanks for the unity of the student body in the face of adversity. These past weeks has left me prouder than ever to be a student at Yale.
Mrinal Kumar is a sophomore in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .