USS says the fight for equality starts in the classroom

Courtesy+of+Vincent+Evans

Courtesy of Vincent Evans

Angelica Tejada

Members of the University Student Senate spoke to The Ticker about their thoughts on inequality and working toward social justice on CUNY campuses, as sparked by the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

According to members, CUNY students can carry the conversation surrounding the movement to their campuses and include the changes they’d like to see happen to better their higher education experience.

USS Chairperson and CUNY Student Trustee Timothy Hunter told The Ticker over the phone that students are at the front lines of the fight for racial equality.

“It’s important that we continue to foster those leaderships because this isn’t a fight that’s going to end in like one week or one day, or with a couple protests, this is a marathon,” Hunter said.

USS Vice Chair of Legislative Affairs Juvanie Piquant, told The Ticker in a phone interview that the uproar against racial and systemic oppression toward black individuals doesn’t exclude the need for a fair and fulfilled higher education.

“The fight that we are fighting for right now for equality doesn’t negate the fight for higher education. Our education and it is a small piece of the pie that may not be the focal point of the conversation right now but we’re going to have that conversation,” Piquant said. “It is so important for us to understand that all these things happen, and we start our learning in the classrooms.”

Piquant added that students can utilize their voice to become engaged and start a conversation towards change right on their campuses and in their classrooms.

“Many people may feel as if because they are not on the frontlines with a bullhorn, their voice doesn’t matter and that they can’t have a greater impact and I just want to let them know that wherever you are, you can create impact whether it’s in your student government or a club,” Piquant added.

Baruch College’s USS Delegate Joel De La Cruz said he encourages students to become civically engaged by contacting their local senators and assembly members.

“The simple way to go about this is to always say, ‘Hey, I’m your constituent. This is an issue that I’m facing, I want you to vote against this or speak out against this and do something to fix it,’” De La Cruz told The Ticker over the phone.

“I think that it is so important for students, especially CUNY students because we’re a very unique group of students, that we take this moment in history we figure out where we stand in history, what can we do for society and move forward because everyone has something to offer,” Piquant said. “There is so much that we can do and bring our communities together and it starts with us.”

“So, it’s important that we’re intentional with our actions and we know that we have many different views and it’s okay to disagree but it’s okay to agree as well.”