Wake up, Bearcats: Real change starts with you

I know as a Baruch College student, it is difficult to wake up early and sacrifice your days off, but as active members of this community, we need to enact change. We have been faced with some pushback from students recently due to “bystanderism.”

Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government has been working to promote the importance of the Albany lobbying trips and funding of the 17 Lex building. USG has been writing letters to legislators for more funding for our 17 Lex building, but there is now a greater emphasis on Albany.

This can be credited to our new VP of Legislative Affairs, Navjot Kaur. She has really inspired the table, e-board and myself personally to advocate for what Baruch students need.

Bystanderism has been shown through pushback against advocacy — Baruch students expect others to be the only ones putting in the effort to make a change. Bystanderism occurs when someone sees an issue and decides to remain passive. This allows them to lift the burden from their shoulders, assuming that someone else will correct the issue at hand. This is not unique to Baruch; much of New York is like this as well. One example near and dear to me is when I saw a blind man crossing the street, and he started crossing at the wrong time. Although there were others at the crosswalk, nobody ran out to help him. I ended up running into the road to lead him away from the traffic and walked him to where he wanted to go.

This mindset New Yorkers have is applied to the response over Albany. When asking others to attend the Higher Education Action day in Albany on Feb. 12, students were not willing to attend, even though the issues were relevant
to them.

Change, such as our tuition hike freezes, has happened in the past due to the volume of people who were there to advocate for it. Bystanderism counteracts change. This diffusion of responsibility is why Baruch has not had an impact in Albany for the past three years.

If all 18,000 Baruch students showed up, it'd be hard to imagine that New York state would ignore the issue at hand — especially since we are renovating our building to fit legal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

In USG, we are not at 100 percent attendance ourselves, but thanks to this common goal, our new VP of Legislative Affairs and our understanding about strength in numbers, there is more prevalence in our meetings about advocating for student’s rights.

Emma Jorgensen is the executive vice president of USG. She can be reached at emma.jorgensen@usgbaruch.com. Her office is located at 3-276 in the Newman Vertical Campus.