I am leaving this university at a time when both it and the state in which it is located are faltering in ways I naively thought impossible when I first laid eyes on the colored pipes and concrete walls of UVU. There are a precious and hardworking few who are trying to prevent all this.
Here are some symptoms of this decay, and a few prescriptions to prevent it. Brigham Young once said that this is the place.
Indeed, this is the place where for years our university’s budget has been cut and then cut more, first by double digits and now by just a little less.
The responsibility for funding this school has fallen on the students even though we now, and have always, received less funding per student than any other institution.
Our tuition goes up and up. Our student fees go up and up. Every day it gets harder for those who most need this cheap, open enrollment university to get the education they deserve.
These cuts are happening all over the world. But in Canada, in California, in Uganda and Greece and Italy, students are organizing, striking, even rioting in the thousands to prevent this from happening, to save their education and their neighbors’ education, or at least to protest its inaccessibility. Here, precious few have done anything.
This is the place where we accepted a new university president who is one of the increasingly numerous people who are proud to have succeeded in taking rights away from our fellow citizens. He is prominent and well liked, and for this everyone ignored the truth that just a few spoke out against. Our president has hurt gay people around the nation, concretely, and we let him come here.
This is the place where our elected representatives are engaged in a war against immigrants, which is also to say against real, actual people. Many have for years labeled them illegal, as though simply existing were a flagrant violation of the law. For as many years, they have been used as cheap laborers that could be abused and tossed away at will.
This is the place where rather than helping those who have already given so much and had so much taken away, they passed a law that makes into criminals real people who deserve to be here, who deserve to stay with their families and neighbors and communities.
But there is hope, though all is not well. Every day, here on this campus, there are people actively working to prevent all this, and more, from happening – those precious few people and organizations that work tirelessly. You students who remain here even as I leave must find them, and they are not so hard to find.
They are in the halls passing out flyers, hanging posters, talking and explaining and convincing people that this is the place where we need to prevent injustice.
They are organizing – meetings, lectures, conferences, rallies – writing articles and printing pamphlets that say this is the place where good is needed.
They are in classrooms, learning, debating, arguing that this is the place where we must stand up for what is right.
This, students, is indeed the place.
Hic Rhodus, hic salta.