And just like that, another semester has come and gone. The Griffin has reported for 166 semesters now. Through the complete integration of women on campus to the Civil Rights Movement; during times of prosperity and of turmoil and distress. Today, as we wrap up yet another semester, the campus emits a palpable sense of relief and unrest.
2016 was a difficult year. We are all Canisius students, but first, we are human. We feel the pain of the world around us and question our future security. Our lives are flooded by the thousands of internet voices, screaming anger and hate and crying for peace and justice. The events of this past year have taken a toll on our health and our happiness, making it increasingly difficult to manage the responsibilities of school and internalize the news every day. It seemed that every time things began to feel normal, another reason to worry emerged.
We experienced panic about the Zika virus and sorrow and fear after the attacks on Brussels, Belgium. We experienced mourning after hearing the news that 49 people died at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. There was uncertainty after global economy tumbled as a result of “Brexit,” when Britain infamously voted to leave the European Union, and outrage as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan endangered thousands of children. Massive protests erupted in resistance to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as after continuous accounts of police brutality against black males – an epidemic that took the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Kajuan Raye, amongst others this year. Our hearts broke as pictures and videos displayed the horrific attacks on Aleppo during the Syrian War. Then, in an unprecedented and unpredictable turn of events, Donald J. Trump was elected the next President of the United States, leaving America more divided than ever before.
Our students have grappled with the questions that the outside world has thrown at us while simultaneously battling our own problems within the confines of our hallways. It is hard to imagine that just a few short months ago, we walked into the halls of Canisius to marvel at the interior changes the school completed over the summer. At that time, the largest problem within the Canisius community was enraged commuters struggling to find parking on the first day of classes.
In September, President John J. Hurley was praised for his efforts in working with the Afro American Society to solve diversity issues on campus. Now, not three months later, racial tensions at Canisius have amplified and the ramifications of our lack of action finally caught up to us. Black students cried in the Grupp Fireside Lounge during the “Black Lives Matter” Enlight Night as they expressed the racial adversity they have faced on campus. Posters for this event were tore down and defaced with racial slurs. A month ago today, a photo surfaced of a black baby doll being hung from a window in Frisch Hall. Soon after, Canisius College became a trending topic on Facebook and was featured on CNN amongst a list of other hate crimes that occurred after the election.
Canisius students have stood in the shivering cold of the Bart Mitchell Quad, holding one another as they protested the election of Donald J. Trump and the hate crime that occurred the same day. They expressed their vulnerabilities and demanded change. Last week, The Griffin highlighted the Canisius Staff that chose to stand in solidarity with its students. A list of signatures circulated of the faculty and students who were demanding that administration take action.
Students were not able to find peace or relaxation during Thanksgiving break, as news of the tragic death of freshman student Victoria Brooks shook the Canisius community.
Canisius students and administration have yet to agree on a stance for/against the Travel Team, an issue that has furthered the divide between demanding students and a reluctant administration.
With the end near, one can only ask: what happens next? Will the dust settle over Christmas break, resulting in a more jovial and amicable campus? Or will the problems of this semester carry on to the next? Are there solutions on the horizon, or will we return to campus feeling just as satisfied as we had left?
It seems that there are no answers. It seems that there is a general feeling of disappointment with this past semester, but we must remain hopeful that the next semester will be better. We must continue to celebrate the daily achievements of our students and faculty, and revel in the Jesuit spirit of our school. We will attend our classes and take our finals, anxious to soon get a break from it all. Then, come January, we’ll do it all over again.
But until that moment when we return, The Griffin wishes you the best of luck on all of your finals and a merry holiday season. Enjoy your break, Canisius. You certainly deserve to.