OK, Boomer. There it is, I said it. The meme that became a rallying cry for our generation has now been printed on the pages of this hallowed publication. Ours is a generation which is, by some accounts, being left a whole lot of metaphorical trash to clean up. "OK, Boomer" is our disapproving response to that.
Penn’s Board of Trustees recently announced the law school would be renamed the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School after a $125 million dollar donation from the W. P. Carey Foundation. This announcement took some of the Penn community by surprise, as discussions on the donation and renaming were held confidentially. Feelings of outrage quickly grew, both among the Penn Law community and through the greater Philadelphia region as a whole.
But from that outrage came swift rallying by current students, who came together and fought for the Penn name to be brought back. This modest goal became the focus of their efforts and their actions were a catalyst for its re-renaming. Our voices together made the change we wanted, so it is important now that we keep pushing for the things we believe in and not lose hope.
One action these current students took was circulating a petition signed by students and alumni demanding that the administration revert back to "Penn Law" as the shortened version of the law school's name. Upon release, the petition rapidly gained support from the Penn community, with well over 3,000 signatories. This is a testament to the power of students’ voices — deliberate, targeted advocacy being heeded by those in the seats of power.
We strive to have a voice and for it to be recognized. But many feel that our petitions and positions have been neglected by the ruling elite, ignored and pushed aside in favor of opposite opinions or the status quo. But in contradiction to this, we can see the power of our voices on an even larger scale.
For the first time in modern Philadelphia history, Philadelphia’s City Council will include a member who is not a Democrat or Republican, elected thanks in part to significant support from the Penn community and the population surrounding Penn's campus.
Many of our peers supported Kendra Brooks, the third-party candidate. The Sunrise Movement (a student-led organization) endorsed her, and many young people went out to canvass for her. Come election day, Penn students turned out in full force to vote in these elections and much of Kendra Brooks’ electoral support came from the 27th and 46th ward.
Our voices made an impact. We saw the specific issues we wanted changed, we came together, we worked hard, and the results we wanted came through.
It pains me to write “we are the future.” Not just because it is cliché, but because underneath those words is the sentiment that we should “wait our turn” — that we should forgo action and opinion and defer to those who have “waited in line.”
But in my experience, waiting in line means nothing gets done; nothing changes. It can be interpreted as a false statement that we’re okay with what we’re going through. And the worst part of waiting in line is the realization that by the time you get to the front, it’s too late.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the complicated process of effecting change. It can indeed be a drawn out, sometimes fruitless effort. But every generation in American history has faced significant challenges. We do not know what ours will be, but we must be prepared to face it. Practicing civic action now is step one in that preparation.
So I say this as a humble first-year: We cannot stop our work. There will be many who are willing to hear our truths from the beginning, but there will be so many more that will not. It is our job to be fearless, knowledgeable champions for our causes. And, if history is any indicator, those in power will recognize our demands and listen.
ALFREDO PRATICÒ is a College freshman from Philadelphia, Pa. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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