March 7, 2018
No one has ever accused me of being quiet. In fact, quite the opposite. I was given extra assignments in grade school to keep me from chatting with my neighbors, have never been afraid to give a speech, was voted most talkative in high school and still today have a hard time shutting up. I figure, I was given a voice, I might as well use it.
I’ve used it to ask questions, teach others, collaborate on ideas, get jobs done, connect with people, celebrate, argue and debate. I’ve used it to defend myself and speak up for others. I’ve spoken to crowds of hundreds and one small child. I’ve chanted at rallies and whispered in the night. I’ve sung in choirs and hummed melodies to myself. I’ve spoken beautiful poetry and colorful language that would make a sailor blush. I’ve tried to wrap my tongue around different languages but never really mastered them. I’ve been speaking up as often as I can from the time I was able. It’s really pretty amazing what just one voice can do.
If we’ve learned anything during the last few months, it’s that one voice, backed by courage, can make a difference. One voice, joined by others, can change the world.
For a group of students in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, using their voices became a way to spark a movement. In an effort to support survivors of sexual assault, these five women created the Go Teal campaign to raise awareness, offer support and create change. Read the MSUTODAY FEATURE: MSU students spark a movement, written by a talented ComArtSci student, to learn more about the effort. I’m so proud of this next generation of Spartan voices.
Sometimes, having a voice isn’t the problem, but choosing the right words is. I might talk a lot, but I’ve certainly been at a loss for words often in my life – usually because I’m trying to figure out the best way to say something. Prabu David, the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, recently wrote a wonderful piece about this very topic as it relates to issues of the Nassar scandal, sexual violence, harassment and equality. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Finding the right words, to learn more about his thoughts on not just speaking, but active listening, which he says “is the first step toward being an active voice for positive change.”
I’m also really proud of the deans we have on campus. They have used their positions to be true leaders in their colleges and at the university. They are working together, supporting their students and penning inspiring words. Robert Floden, dean of the College of Education, recently used his voice to address his commitment to making necessary changes on campus. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Rebuilding and implementing change, to learn more.
Using your voice to help others is one of our greatest abilities and most important responsibilities as Spartans. Taylor Struna, a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is using his to help other recovering addicts follow their dreams at MSU. He currently serves as the student leader for the Collegiate Recovery Community, which helps students in recovery achieve academic, personal and professional success. Read his very personal story in the STUDENT VIEW: The road to recovery, to learn more about this determined young man.
There will be a lot of speaking and listening happening at MSU for quite some time. One voice can spark a movement, but it will take our collective voices to find solutions. No one person can fix everything. The challenges we face are daunting, but Spartans all over the world are committed to using their voices to be part of the solution.
Last week, the university announced a new work group to address campus issues regarding relationship violence. In order to make sure they’re hearing from all Spartan voices, they launched a form for people to submit ideas and suggestions for the workgroup. People can submit anonymously if they wish. The group will meet at least monthly and carefully consider all ideas. If you want to make your voice heard, I encourage you to submit your suggestions through the online form.
Or, if your voice is a little quieter, there are other ways to be heard – like participating in the Go Teal campaign with a ribbon or light on your porch. There’s no one way to use your voice – figure out what works for you.
But please do use it. Silence is not the path to rebuilding and change. The swell of Spartan voices really can change the world. Spartans Will.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz