Maybe it is my obsession with the American Revolution, the counterculture or that fact that I read the Declaration of Independence and the Port Huron Statement for fun or frequently listen to Bob Dylan, but I love when the people fight for what they believe in.
This is why last week when UNH Dining declared that it would be halting the sale of energy drinks on campus, I was so furious, and when President Huddleston denied the ban, I rejoiced. Listen, I understand that getting worked up over energy drinks is silly, especially when they are much cheaper downtown, but it was the principle of the situation that bothered me the most.
Where do you draw the line? What is the next thing that they will take from us?
President Huddleston reversing dining's decision was a minor victory for the student body over the administration, which is something that really doesn't happen at UNH too often — especially with our mostly passive student body. Many people told me I was overreacting through comments and tweets, but it was clear that they did not see the bigger picture.
It wasn't about the energy drinks to me; it was about responsibility and the freedom of choice.
On Twitter, I half-jokingly tweeted "no taxation without representation" because of how dining made the decision without discussing options with its meal plan-paying customers. People said I took my comments too far and blew the situation out of proportion. But the majority of the students who still wanted to pay for overpriced Red Bulls at the library got their way. If people didn't complain, then come January, UNH Dining services would have been energy drink free.
Doing or saying nothing accomplishes nothing.
It was a small victory for the students. We didn't lower tuition or convince UNH to renovate Hamilton-Smith, but like President Huddleston said, the administration listened to the students. They may have all the power, but we have the vast majority. Students can make a difference on this campus if we care enough to try. We won't always succeed, but we definitely won't if we don't try.
That is why I have decided to do something about another UNH decision that has bothered me this year.
I mentioned it briefly last week, and after discussing it with many students, I have decided it is worth a shot. I will personally be writing a respectful petition and circulating it around the Gables asking that Friday and Saturday night quiet hours be restored to 1 a.m. Like President Huddleston said about the energy drink situation, the administration wants us students to make our own decisions. If we fail miserably, so what? At least we tried. If we don't try we have already failed.
If the majority of Gables residents are willing to sign the petition, they have to at least listen to us. UNH might not be a democracy, but America is, and the majority usually wins. I say usually because we all remember the 2000 presidential election.
Is this a major problem on this campus? No, it isn't. But it is a start and something that many students care about, and you need to start somewhere. The one-hour makes a huge difference. The bonus features such as more freedom, responsibility and independence of the Gables and Woodsides are what make them special to the students and worth the extra money. The reason for the change in quiet hours was that housing cited a survey where students complained about noise levels, but I believe the majority of students would prefer the 1 a.m. quiet hours.
During the week, 10 p.m. is understandable, but on the weekends very few students are ready to go to bed or quiet down at midnight. This is not even an issue of being able to party later, but much like the energy drink situation, what comes next? Will there be CAs on every floor like the RAs in the dorms? You may think that will never happen, but did you expect the quiet hours to change without warning?
Many students, such as myself, were annoyed that the change was not announced until after the room selection process was completed and we would have lost our deposit if we sought to live elsewhere. The new quiet hours are not the end of the world, but it is a matter of responsibility.
Obviously, students will not get everything we ask for all the time, but I believe it is worth a shot.
Stay classy, not UMassy