Categorized | Editorials, Opinion

An open letter to Aaron Morrison regarding ‘Occupy Wildcat’

Dear Mr. Morrison: 

It has come to our attention that you are the listed creator of an event page on Facebook called “Occupy Wildcat.” We understand that this is a peaceful protest against “the rising Pioneer prices, particularly in Wildcat,” scheduled to take place Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 12 noon until 5 p.m.

As members of the media, we value the basic human right to express oneself freely. As students, we are engaged in the ongoing discussion of how we can make Indiana Wesleyan University a better place for everyone. But we are writing you now to express our concern and hope that you will reconsider plans to proceed with “Occupy Wildcat” for the following reasons:

1. Your position as acting president of the Student Government Association is a representative role and is, therefore, indivisible from your personal life. Political activism outside SGA’s formal functioning should be seen as unitary with your work as president.

2. It is unacceptable to promote that which is “not an official SGA event” on official SGA media platforms, as you did on the SGA blog, providing a link to the “Occupy Wildcat” Facebook page.

3. You have not cohesively articulated a specific list of complaints.

4. You have not completely exhausted less spectacular means of communicating with Pioneer College Caterers and Indiana Wesleyan University personnel.

5. Branding your protest “Occupy Wildcat” is unfortunate, in light of recent world events. Other protests in the “Occupy” movement have resulted in injury, loss of life, political unrest and property damage worldwide. “Occupy Wildcat” seems petty in comparison to the movement at large.

We, the undersigned, take “Occupy Wildcat” very seriously and hope you will reconsider your organizational role in its execution.

Lauren Sawyer, Editor in Chief of The Sojourn
Molly Meyer, Managing Editor of The Sojourn
Steven Porter, News Editor of The Sojourn
Jeremy Sharp, Sports Editor of The Sojourn
Rachel Pyle, Features/A&E Editor of The Sojourn

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12 Responses to “An open letter to Aaron Morrison regarding ‘Occupy Wildcat’”

  1. Zach Aument says:

    I could not agree with this more. It is so necessary to maintain soundness of mind and tact in an office like this. The rampant sensationalism of this campus seems to be so mal-focussed. I would love to see a refocussing of all this energy onto issues that matter for eternity’s sake. I haven’t heard another word about sex trafficking since the people presented “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” which I view as a far more worthy cause. I also can’t help but be frustrated with such petty cases of whimsy when I look at the unbridled state of economic, intellectual, and spiritual poverty that surrounds this privileged campus. Aaron remains a dear friend of mine and I just sent him a message imploring him to strive after higher pursuits. We must be careful not to judge his passion though. Few of us strive after life as hard as he.

    • JR Risner says:

      Thank you Zach. I agree wholeheartedly. I find it relatively sad that there is so much poverty and need right here in Marion, let alone issues such as sex trafficking around the globe, yet we do not rise up together in action until we get charged extra for cheese. We definitely need to stop and consider what is truly important, and which changes will have the widest impact in the future, then work toward those things. I also agree that we need to be careful not to attack Aaron himself, or his passion. We need to show him support and let him know which issues are truly important to us and what things we are willing to step up and take action on. For now, the only thing we seem willing to take that kind of action on is food prices. The way I see it, that says much more about the rest of us as a student body than it does about the president himself.

  2. I agree that the actions the university took without adequate student representation are unfair and not reflective of student opinion at large. I also agree that our student body president should champion the voice of the students, working to share that voice with administrators to see and reach compromise. But I believe, as the Body of Christ in an institutional community, it is the students’ responsibility to work in a way to encourage effective communication and unity–not just promote a flagship cause that is seemingly representative of student frustration and supposed inalienable rights. This is an institution, not a federal government. Change is slow, but I do not believe the university and its faculty are in any way attempting to undermine our experience and/or value as the student body. I would hope that the students, and their chosen leadership, would actively seek change in a way that is not limited to ranting on social media sites or protests; where are collective petitions, collective prayer, and meetings for compromise from all people who want their voice heard, if it is apparently not? This is our university, yes, but it is also theirs. How, as members of the Body of Christ, are we meeting with these people and honestly but respectfully working with them for change? How many people are attending SGA meetings to enact change? What is the point of student government without its students? How are we, my friends, seeking positive change that honors those in authority?

    • Nils says:

      People responded first, then he backed them with his support. He should not be sorry for backing the voice of the people. I was one of the students who talked to him about this issue. That we did want our voice heard instead of pushed aside. Josh Campbell, Nathan DeMasie, and many others voices were heard and met with his support – I thought that was his job. It was a “peaceful demonstration”. Reading articles like Pioneer serves up 10 more years, I could not see a greater distance between the administration and SGA/us. They did not care, they merely reformatted the contract regardless of what we said. Sometimes peaceful demonstrations and petitions are the next step. But so many people just jump to the conclusion that this was the first idea. He was diplomatic, and then when a group of students approached him and talked out what they’d do, Aaron then responded.

  3. Rob Clarkson says:

    I agree in the sense that there are other options that could possibly be exhausted. However, this type of protest is not a dooming idea either. It is not nearly as detrimental as the editors might want one to believe. As for pursuing higher causes, how can IWU change the world when the negative stigma against the completely closed door (to students) organization known as Pioneer continues to not let students in on how they manage finances etc? This is about fair business, it’s about opening lines of communication. Aaron is acting outside of SGA because the organization is completely ignored by those who claim it to be a “voice of the students”. Aaron is showing IWU that the bureaucracy that is SGA has no power, but the students do.

    Those who are afraid of this movement, or see it as out-of-place; stand down. Complacency is not for everyone. If you are, however, someone who considers yourself to be a wise steward of the money God has provided and/or are someone who values honesty and Christ-like integrity from everyone, not just students; stand with those supporting this cause.

    If we are trying to grow and develop into world changers, what is so wrong with trying to change the world around us? If our own house is not in order, how will we ever achieve greatness outside it? If we are afraid to approach issues that are clearly wrong because we see them as “less important” than other issues, will we ever manage to get to those “more important” issues? If we only focus on salvation based plights, why are we even in school? How many souls do we save sitting in class?

    This movement is about making IWU better. It is about holding Pioneer responsible for its actions in the form of change and/or transparency with students. It’s also about getting Pioneer to treat employees and students in a Christ-like manner which, as a former employee, I can say with full confidence is not the case now.

    I love this school. But things that I love, I challenge to be better. This is a challenge for IWU and Pioneer to be better. They influence the lives of thousands of people who influence people for Christ. The little things count in that picture. And letting people get away with shady business dealings and possible extortion of students because it’s “not a big enough deal” is nothing short of atrocious.

    To summarize, I say to the above proposal: No deal.

    I have confidence Aaron will agree.

  4. Sojourn Really? says:

    Welp looks like next week we should occupy the Sojourn! Does our tuition money pay for that piece of paper that tells the student body a couple weeks later information which we already know? I say down with the Sojourn!!! Corporate Media Greed!!!!

  5. Joshua Weaver says:

    Zach and Sojourn,

    A few thoughts:

    Sojourn: What was your hope in posting this open letter? Have you talked with Aaron before posting it?

    I’d like to elevate this conversation to some more salient and macro-level considerations: I think in some ways Aaron is being misrepresented here (not just this letter, but generally in other comments and conversations I’ve heard on campus). While I feel the name of “occupy” was unfortunate and the sit in itself might not be the best way to accomplish his goals, is not his larger purpose to give the students a voice with administrators and to encourage people to step out of apathy and do something? This begins first at the everyday level in things that affect students’ everyday lives? Of course the price of cheese is a marginal issue! But that’s not really what he’s getting at… Don’t you think people would be more likely to seek “higher pursuits” of eternal value such as community engagement and loving Marion and then the world if they first are stirred from apathy to care about small things in their everyday life? Isn’t it far fetched to expect people to move from apathy directly into a passionate pursuit of advancing the Kingdom of God in a transcendent and even regional context? (what Zach in his comment I believe is indeed rightfully exhorting us to do.) It would be kind of like trying to ride a tricycle on a freeway… probably not going to happen. If you don’t have enough resolve to pray about an issue on campus or bring an smaller issue to someone in leadership, how will you address an issue as complex and vast as sex trafficking? My point is that learning to engage the world around us is typically a process.

    Furthermore, I don’t think there’s a neat dichotomy we can make between seemingly eternally insignificant things and eternally significant things. If we are addressing the larger purpose of his actions, are not efforts to connect people with the deeper things in their heart not of eternal value? I’m afraid that for many people their criticism of Aaron’s actions stem not from a serious effort and commitment to do more or seek higher pursuits, but from a desire to justify (by condemning the irritant) their own comfortable ego-centrism. It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines. While espousing higher values their inaction proves that their highest value is actually most base: self.

    I can’t speak for others involved in this whole thing, but insomuch as I correctly understand Aaron’s heart in this, I think the essence of what he is trying to do here on campus is a valuable pursuit. The means to those ends we will and should continue to debate. My comments are here focused on the ends.

    respectfully,
    Joshua

  6. IWU Student says:

    Where’s John Hancock?

  7. Rebecca Prosser says:

    As this open letter seems to so significantly state that Occupy Wildcat is not part of an SGA event, don’t you find it ironic that this should be published publicly? You have directed it to a single person, which should be kept personal between you and said individual. Yes, you stated that his role as president is indivisible from his personal life, but that does not mean that these accusations should be addressed publicly. You are criticizing his personal judgement.
    Also, in the fifth reason you open with: “Branding your protest…” I don’t know about you, but usually these things take more than one person to accomplish. Maybe you need to re-title this as “An open letter to the Students who are participating in “Occupy Wildcat”
    I know it’s easy to blame an individual for the problems at hand like we have done our U.S. president for issues we have dealt with on a daily basis, there is, however, this thing called Congress (but we won’t go any more into that).
    Even though Aaron Morrison is our representative for the student body, stop pointing fingers at the individual. Obviously lots of people are complaining (otherwise this protest wouldn’t be in existence). Also, since this situation IS causing complaints (however non-specific they may be), would you want the student body president to do any less? Again, you say he is our representative… He’s taking a stand and REPRESENTING the feelings of many students. Bravo to any soul who endeavors to make a difference.

  8. SGA is not a mission board says:

    Those who argue against the occupy wildcat protest by saying that those in SGA and others on campus would be investing their time better by fighting sex trafficking and other world issues have constructed a false argument. While I wholeheartedly agree that ridding the world of sex trafficking is a worthy goal, it is not the job of SGA. For those who have forgotten, SGA stands for Student Government Association. SGA is here to represent the students of IWU to the administration. SGA does not exist to fight human trafficking in other countries; it is an organization which is meant to deal with problems on the IWU campus. Therefore, those who condemn Aaron and the Occupy Wildcat movement for being “petty” are missing the whole goal. Did we elect Aaron Morrison as our student body president so that he would dance around campus with fliers about ending sex trafficking? No- we elected him to hear the concerns of the student body and to work with the administration to address those concerns. While there is a time a place for SGA to promote “world-changing” activities by hosting events and speakers, there is no need to judge when they also deal with the on-campus issues that they are here to address. (P.S.– calling the IWU protest Occupy Wildcat was actually brilliant…those who know about things which happen outside IWU can appreciate the irony in the name.)

  9. IWU_Gay_Kid says:

    You clearly do not understand what Occupy Wall Street is about and your views on peaceful protesting need to be re-evaluated. There is a reason for the title of Peaceful Protesting.

    In any case the Title of Occupy Wildcat is 100% spot on. It is about the flow of money. Where is our money going? In the case of IWU Meal plans, we all pay for the food, the price increases every year, and yet we get less and less food.

    The trigger was the absence of cheese. It could have been anything else, but people get caught up on the cheese and trivialize the overarching problem. The problem being: We don’t know where all the money goes. A lot of people will graduate into crippling debt so don’t be surprised when they take offense to being given less and charged more.

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  1. [...] the official campus newspaper of my alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan University, recently published an open letter to Student Government Association President Aaron Morrison regarding his alleged involvement in the “Occupy Wildcat” [...]


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