Hierarchal conventions are hurting students

Sarah O’Connor / Silhouette Staff

During a Linguistics tutorial last term, I overheard a classmate complaining about an article written in The Silhouette, eagerly wanting to write an editorial reply.

I turned to her and said, “I write for The Sil, I can help if you want.” I was then greeted with a few shocked stares from my classmates.

“You write for The Sil? What year are you in?” one person asked, confusingly. I responded, “First year.” I was in a first year class after-all.

This moment shocked me and made me question why my fellow first-years would expect me to be older for the sole reason that I wrote for the university paper. What was it about writing for The Silhouette that makes me seem older, mature, better? Did writing for the paper make others see me as more educated or clever? What was it that made me seem so different for writing 600 words every week?

After all, anyone can write for The Silhouette. A neat little advertisement calls for student’s opinions and stories every week in every issue. Even The Silhouette website asks for News Tips where students can give the paper a heads up on what’s going on around McMaster.

But with all these options, what’s stopping people from writing?

And then I started thinking about all the other areas students can get involved in McMaster, like the SRA and the MSU Presidency. There are about 20,000 students at McMaster.

Each and every student is allowed to run for these things. But how many students actually go out and try?

These positions don’t ask for a vast knowledge of politics, they just ask for students.

And out of 20,000 students, only handfuls actually feel they are worthy to try. Not necessarily win, just to try.

We live in a world made of hierarchies. They are everywhere and rule who we are and where we stand in society. Hierarchies tell us that only some people are good enough to do certain things. Only some people can do great things and be remembered while the rest of us decay, not knowing that we could do great things.

Its power people want; power to lead them, power to make them safe and power to keep the public knowing what is right and wrong. Power creates these hierarchies, telling us that only some people are good enough, only some people are special and the rest are the followers.

But no one has to be a follower. No one has to stop him or herself from attempting great things because thepy feel they aren’t good enough, that they don’t fit into the “status quo”. You can do great things and you can be a part of the big things around McMaster.

All you have to do is try. We are all capable of doing great things, but these hierarchies try to crush our spirit and convince us we can’t. We can’t write for the paper because our opinions aren’t important enough, we can’t run for the SRA because we don’t know what it’s about, we can’t run for MSU President because we don’t know anything about politics.

But we can. We have to push through these hierarchies and obstacles that tell us we can’t and show them we can.

We can write for the paper, we can run for SRA and MSU president. We can learn and grow and achieve great things as long as we put our minds to it.

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