The Importance of Student Voices: A Letter from the Collective
The Student Insurgent Brigham Dorian Blue ch0ccyra1n Serbal Vidrio #press release
As I begin the final term of my first year in Eugene and am starting my first full term with The Student Insurgent, I feel a good deal of reflection is in order. As I flew away from my life in rural upstate New York, I expected to feel the world open up to me and to be engulfed by an array of new experiences reaching out for me, but the romantic projections of my life after high school were met with the reality of the mundanity of the life I have always lived. Partying, studying, sporting events, and the other stereotypes defining college life are the same things I underwent during high school, but as I attempted to find my niche on campus I came upon the Student Insurgent.
Having written and produced content on social media for a couple of years prior to university, I had seen the impact my thoughts had when given an audience, and longed for a more palpable outlet than the digital sphere I was inhabiting. One Monday evening I finally decided to attend a general meeting for the Insurgent after seeing flyers throughout the fall, and after one meeting I felt completely rejuvenated. Looking through previous issues from the last few years made me feel like I could be a part of something greater, and seeing a motivated group of people dedicated to producing relevant and meaningful publications made me passionate about writing again.
Unfortunately, many people in our generation, especially those in school, are not inclined to pick up a newspaper or magazine, let alone take the time out of their days to read it along with their assigned classwork. As J. Ellis touched on in our previous issue, the potential power that a fully student-run activist publication wields on a college campus is immense, but if people do not take the time to read what we sacrifice ours for, is there any power behind the punch of a bunch of paper?
The simple answer is: yes, of course there is. The longer answer is a bit more complicated, and it relies on the people reading these words right now just as much as it relies on us here at the Insurgent. We need to promote the importance of our student body’s voice when it comes to administrative, social, and political issues here in Eugene, as well as around the country. Any movement or action begins with an awareness of the issue(s) at hand, and an expression of a desired end communicated through language on both small and large scales. The effort to unionize at UO is exemplary of one of these movements, and is a tangible demonstration of the power that an organization of student voices can have.
The vital aspect of awareness starts in visibility, and I am confident that we as a collective will make our presence felt in the coming years, but we could definitely use your help! Encourage your friends and family to read one of our issues or other tabloids lifting up the voices of students who want to be heard. People are more receptive to someone they know than a complete stranger, and all of the people here at the Insurgent have something to say, and we hope you get a chance to listen.
Another winter has almost come and gone. It brings me into my worst moods, yet also inspires me during my many hours spent in the dark. I have to confront things, both inside myself and in the world around me. Spring has been seen as a time of rebirth for time immemorial and I hope this can be true of our publication too. We are in a period of transition and I want us to come out of it as strong as ever. Our place in the campus and community is important and shouldn’t be taken for granted. I certainly don’t: I hope all of you feel the same way and will support us in the ways you can.
When I finished high school, I was disappointed in my prior experiences with attempting to start an anarchist zine publication in my local community, among other endeavors. I never really got any help with it and my ambitions died with failure to produce even a single zine. Since then, I’ve become far more jaded and pessimistic. Regardless, I eventually found The Student Insurgent and was able to write a few articles, as well as overhauling the website. The latter in particular was a creative outlet for my voice as a student and nerd, and I’m unsure what I’d do with my time if not for Insurgent existing. As we’re transitioning (it feels like we’re always in that mode of operation), this aspect will hopefully remain the backbone of our organization, as a fundamentally creativity-focused space for rad students.
As I wrote about in the last issue, I have a way of feeling out of place wherever I go. I mean that metaphorically, though it’s also true in a very literal sense as I write this blurb from Dakar, Senegal. Yet, since transferring to the UO in Fall 2021 and joining The Student Insurgent shortly after, I have been able to find a kind of community–and an important creative outlet–in the collective of like-minded radicals that keep this magazine going through its many ups and downs. Those of us who have seen the workings of the Insurgent from the inside know better than anyone that things aren’t always perfect and that mistakes, sometimes big ones, have been made. Still, what do we stand for if we abandon each other and our collaborative and creative endeavors when things get rough? The story of the Insurgent shows that the survival of the vital spaces of creativity, solidarity, and radical thought that we need now more than ever depends on developing and maintaining a culture of flexibility, gracefulness, and care at their core.
All it takes is one look into our archives to see how student voice translates to student power. Decades’ worth of old issues are testament to the long history of student-led agitation and advocacy efforts that begin here on campus, local efforts that over the years had impacts on a national scale. Look no further than the infamous ‘04 jesus-dick-pic issue: come on down to the ROAR Center to check out the binder full of hate mail and discover how empowering it feels to piss off the powers that be. If Hell truly exists, as if we’re not already living in it, then whoever contributed to that fateful ‘04 issue will almost certainly be burning up when their time comes. In the spirit of all those Insurgents that came before you and me, I attest that it’s a unique opportunity to be part of something that, for its entire duration, has amplified the perspectives of the historically disempowered. What we have is rare, so let’s not let it go extinct.
I begin by bringing this moment in our history to your attention not only because it packs a comedic punch; but also to make the case that the platform we have at our disposal here at the Student Insurgent is extremely powerful, if we create content and promote political movements that make it so. To forge revolutionary avulsions, we must continue to wage war with our words, dream of peace with our pens, and catalyze action with art. The creative space is an empowering one. And if print is truly dead, then we’re resurrecting it. Just Like Jesus, bitches!
As long as the UO is gullible enough to grant us funding, we will tend to this ferocity; we bite the hands that feed because they are feeding us poison. The antidote is the reclamation of power through art, and eventually action. Let this serve as a manifesto for the mission of this publication, no matter where it goes from here. Let it be known that:
We exist to agitate both contributors and audience: but not alienate. We intend to unite the student body against local injustices i.e. tuition spikes, antidemocratic governance structures, gentrification and displacement, labor violations, health and reproductive issues, immigration and racial inequalities, and mental health. We also intend to alert the local community to national and international causes. We believe this agitation is a key ingredient to agency.
We exist to give voice to the people: we can’t print without YOU. Our collective is defined by the individuals that constitute it. We embrace diversity of opinions, values, and backgrounds because it improves the perspectives we promote using our platform. ALL are welcome, come challenge us, yourselves, and the broader community.
We exist as a forum for political exploration and expression: tired of politics? Same. Use us as a vehicle to vent your frustrations. Use this platform as an opportunity to challenge and change your worldview, we are the STUDENT Insurgent, after all. Come learn, yell, commiserate, and create change with us.
We exist as a resource for activists in our community, in prisons, and across the nation: we will always do our best to provide timely promotion of actions big and small. Send your flyers in, and ask us for our best wheatpasting tips to spread the word. We aim to be embedded in the activist network and foster coalition building and political action. Therefore, we always welcome the perspectives of (anti-fascist) non-students.
We exist as a creative outlet: to uplift art and artists. If you can dream it, we’ll probably print it. Share your talents (or lack of) with the world. To foster this space, we strive for accessibility in our publication structure.
We exist to connect people to political reality (and action): so that we can expose, dissect, and destroy all vestiges of oppression.
We exist in defiance of: imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, wealth inequality, homophobia and transphobia, sexism, ableism, neoliberalism [in no particular order] … FUCK THAT SHIT!! With our rage we are bringing about a new age, are you in?
The Insurgent has been many things over the years, but it has never strayed from these central ideas. If these sentiments speak to you, inspire you, consider stopping by the ROAR center sometime or shoot us a letter or email.