Last week’s election shook our campus, and rightfully so. Many of us have questions about the future. Many of us are scared. Many of us are hurt. We cannot deny that much has happened in the succeeding week, and it has been difficult to make sense of all of it.
We will be dissecting this election on a political — and personal — level for a very long time. But some things have become clear in the past few days.
Post-election, Hopkins has found a political stride. We have rallied against hate (and against Trump); we have petitioned for a sanctuary campus; we have protested against the closing of a department; and we have demanded the University divest from fossil fuel companies.
We have, largely, begun to shatter the idea that Hopkins students are apathetic.
The excitement surrounding Senator Bernie Sanders’ speech this week was just another example of that. Hopkins was undoubtedly feeling the Bern. Thousands of students lined up for hours at four locations across campus to hear the former presidential-candidate speak — not only to listen to a progressive leader who has galvanized young people across the country, but also in the hopes of gathering some idea of where we go from here.
The speech was, as expected, great. The most important message to take away from his speech (in fact, his entire campaign) — and something we’ve been struggling to believe in the past week — is that it’s going to be okay because we are going to make it okay.
But that means we have to make it okay.
Change does not, and it cannot, begin or end with electoral politics. Elections are but one way of participating in democracy. But we have to go beyond the ballot box.
We have to start here at our own University.
Bernie talked to us about the importance of a $15 minimum wage to reduce income inequality and pervasive poverty. Yet Hopkins still refuses to pay a living wage to its contracted employees.
Bernie spoke of the urgent need to fight climate change in order to save our planet. Yet Hopkins has resisted calls to divest from fossil fuel companies, putting profit over planet and people.
Bernie reminded us that we have power when we stand together and push for change. Yet Hopkins administrators spent much of Thursday hiding from marches and occupations across campus, instead of listening to students.
To top it all off, President Daniels had the nerve to open Bernie’s speech with a dig at student protesters.
“Remember this the next time you protest me,” he said as he introduced Sanders. The implication was clear: sit down, shut up and be happy with what you’ve got.
But that message was antithetical to what we know to be true, and what Bernie encouraged us to do.
Bernie is right on many things. Perhaps the most important is this: We need to stand together in order to effect change. We need to work hard to defend ourselves and push for a better future. And when we unite in solidarity, we are unstoppable.
“Standing together” does not mean waiting until the next election. The struggles for our future are happening here and now, on this very campus. Reach out to student leaders and local activists.
On campus, groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), the Black Student Union (BSU), Hopkins Feminists, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and many more are already working tirelessly.
Take this election as a wake-up call. Take Bernie’s speech as a call-to-action. Take the past week as a warm-up for a long road ahead of organizing for a better tomorrow.
And then get ready to fight back. We need all the help we can get.
Corey Payne is a senior Sociology and International Studies major from Liverpool, NY. He is co-chair of the Hopkins chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.