On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Geaux Vote LSU held a Higher Education Forum in the Holliday Forum in the Journalism Building. The panelists were LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley and Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller. The evening was full of thoughtful discussion and advice to students on how to move forward.
Two words from Dr. Alexander stuck out the most to me: be annoying.
Those words resonated with me because they were a reminder that consistent efforts will not go unnoticed. For better or for worse, one thing is true: only the loudest voices will be heard. In this case, it is the loud, persistent and annoying student voices that will be heard.
Geaux Vote LSU worked really hard to plan this forum and spread the word far and to well received audiences. Students have clearly been concerned, and were interested in hearing what public officials had to say about those concerns. However, we still did not get the attendance we wanted. So at the end of the discussion when the panelists—all dedicated public officials—urged us to stand up for ourselves, it was clear to me what the real downfall will be for students.
If we lose everything, it will be because students were not annoying. Rather than express their concern, students are staying home and waiting for the crap to hit the fan. When millions of dollars in budget cuts rain down on Louisiana college students in the form of cut courses, degree devaluation, extended graduation, cut programs and the like, students will have few to blame but themselves.
It’s incredibly simple: legislators do not listen to students because students give them no reason to. We do not vote and we do not show up. Student decisions are made by everyone except the student. The budget cuts will be no different if we do not make a change.
However, this revelation is not a deterrent. There are students who are expressing their concerns in the form of action. Myself and other students will take those concerns to the Capitol. Student voices will be at the public hearing for the budget cuts.
But will that be enough?
A few students can make a difference, but we cannot speak for 300,000 college students (Though we are certainly going to try). More students need to take action. All students need to take action. Students need to find their legislator’s emails, mailing addresses and phone numbers, and start blowing up every form of communication with their concerns. (I’ll even help you out with the first step: here’s the state legislature website). Students need to show up to the Capitol and start talking to anyone who will listen. Students need to show their faces, because that is the only way to get our voices heard.
It’s time to be annoying.