Enough is enough: Mizzou's fear should be final straw

By Emma Goodwin

To the U.S. Senators and Representatives responsible for representing American citizens:

My name is Emma Goodwin and I used to dream about becoming a U.S. Senator.

However, I have been losing faith in that idea lately — and with good reason. The immense amount of mass shootings in 2015 is beyond disheartening, and yet, no serious action has been taken to make it harder for another mass shooting to happen.

Or, specifically, at the University of Missouri after they received threats Tuesday night of a school shooting to its Columbia campus Wednesday morning.

Maybe you’ve heard about the insanely inspiring progress at the University of Missouri recently; The football team, a graduate student and many members of their campus community banded together to take a stand against months of obvious racism that plagued the Columbia campus.

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    They demanded the resignation of their university’s president, Tim Wolfe.

    Within a week, they achieved their goal — the President resigned Monday.

    Too often, people gripe about lazy millennials — how our generation is a serious downgrade from our ancestors. But when I look at this achievement, that happened in a matter of days, mind you — I find that impossible to buy into.

    The progress at Mizzou can inspire people across the country. It reminds us we can make changes that we’ve been told our generation is incapable of making, and that we’re not lazy. We fight adamantly against things that try to break us. And sometimes we win.

    Monday, and the days following it, should have been days of celebration. Not a celebration for the end of racism as we know it (somehow, our country still hasn’t grasped the meaning of being a “united” nation). But it should have been a celebration for a step in the right direction. A celebration of the fact that the actions of college students made visible, quick, large-scale change.

    Instead, Tuesday night, threats to the Mizzou campus emerged on Yik Yak.

    “Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow,” one read.

    “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see,” was another.

    After years of fighting for racial equality, 15 months after the fighting in Ferguson began, after months of asking representatives to change gun laws following school shootings, people who’ve been fighting for racial equality should’ve been able to celebrate steps toward it this week.

    Instead, residence halls at Mizzou entered a yellow level securing for when “unforeseen events occur on campus or in the city of Columbia,” wrote Katherine Knott, managing editor at Mizzou’s newspaper, the Maneater, on Twitter.

    ROTC members were encouraged not to wear their uniforms for the rest of the week. Students fled campus. The Missouri Students Association asked administration to cancel classes.

    The racially-spurred violence citizens have fought against was directed back at them with a vengeance in the form of a potential school shooting.

    Luckily, the Columbia Police Department was able to apprehend the person who made the threats, but not before fear was likely instilled in every single student, the threat of a shooter making them believe that their lives could be endangered.

    So now, when people try to make moves toward racial equality, it is with this example of potentially life-threatening backlash on the back of their mind.

    I’ve always been a patriot, dear representatives. I always identified myself as someone with such high levels of efficacy that I wanted to join you in D.C.

    But what do you even do?

    In 314 days of 2015, there have been 288 mass shootings. We can’t even go a month without a mass form of gun violence.

    Your inaction is causing the fear of a shooting to rise — or maybe worse, remain constant — and the 535 of you are changing a generation.

    Members of our generation got a university president to resign for all the right reasons, but you’re changing us into people who could fear our lives for making that exact change.

    Nobody should have to fear for their life when standing up for what they believe in. Are we stuck in the violent days of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks? Why do we hail them and claim they changed the world if we have learned so little from them? It’s traitorous to their legacy.

    I hope this generation has the same endurance, hope and strength those crusaders did — but it’s more than 50 years later. You all, the people who represent us, should be worried you’re wearing our endurance down rather than taking it for granted or assuming we will continue to fight when you refuse to save us.

    You’re simply not listening to us. You’ve done nothing to make me feel safer as a student, and I would bet students at Mizzou felt the same way last night.

    Pretty soon, with widespread inaction and ignorance, you’re going to lose more and more dedicated citizens who used to defend you.

    I regularly wonder if Americans’ faith in you will drop so low that they give up the fight, for when we see change happening, it’s with such firm backlash and such little response.

    Please don’t let my question ever be answered. Don’t bet on our fight to be unwavering. Do your jobs and protect us instead.

    Emma is a junior in LAS.

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