Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor
Tea timers, our spring semester is coming to a close. We have been through a lot together these past few months. From online classes to social injustice, mental health and student deaths, our semester has been anything but simple.
It doesn’t seem right to bid the spring farewell without mentioning those who didn’t make it to the end. Cody Woodson, Adam Oakes and Daniel Cordero-Laske were among those taken from the VCU community far too soon. Their families and friends mourn them every day, and we will remember them always.
That being said, some of those deaths will feel seemingly meaningless if no change is brought forward.
Oakes — who died earlier this semester at a Delta Chi fraternity event — will never get to walk across the graduation stage as many students will next week. His family will never be able to witness his accomplishments and rejoice in his success. His friends will never be able to laugh with him. He will never grow old.
All because of unnecessary, childish and antiquated traditions of hazing in Greek life. VCU must not let Oakes’ death be in vain — changes in Greek life are vital. As we leave the semester, it is more important than ever that our demands for these changes will not leave with the season.
Cordero-Laske served as a member of our VCU Student Government Association. Hundreds of VCU community members shared their thoughts on how Cordero-Laske positively impacted their life. He will be missed dearly.
Woodson was shot on Gilmer Street, only a few blocks from where our paper is produced, the Student Media Center. Similarly to 19-year-old Oakes, 20-year-old Woodson died during the peak of his college experience. His safety was not a priority of this university.
Student safety is essential to welcoming comfortability on campus. VCU must ensure that all students are safe and out of danger as much as possible. Woodson died a mere walking distance from campus in an area where many students reside. The semester might be ending, but we still have students — including myself — who will be staying around campus for the summer. My safety should not be compromised simply because classes aren’t in session.
Last summer, Richmond turned into a beautiful, political playground. Protests against the undeniable police brutality in our nation ensued all throughout the area. Offensive statues, such as the Stonewall Jackson monument, were removed. We demanded social justice.
We went from protesting the injustice against George Floyd last year to watching justice be served on our own televisions this year. I wish I could say we didn’t lose anybody along the way.
But, I can’t. Police brutality is as American as apple pie.
We’re not oblivious to the realities of the matter: policing in this nation stems from slave patrols. Therefore, the inherent racism in this nation’s law enforcement is extremely obvious. Nevertheless, we — the protesters of injustice — stand. We stand to ensure that our lives matter, that Black power is respected and recognized throughout the world — that those meant to protect and serve do so. And if they don’t, defund them.
Policing in this nation has proved time and time again to be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Instead of funding this historically racist institution, we could be reallocating those funds to help better our American community as a whole. Greater funding and access to resources for poorly subsidized school districts and community centers could help elevate the status of many children of color across the country.
We did all of this while surviving a pandemic. This school year has proved to be difficult. At times, it even felt like I wasn’t learning because the Zoom fatigue became unbearable. Switching between my computer and campus while maintaining social distancing was hard, but we made it through — vaccinated at that.
Our mental health was put to the test. Depression and anxiety were up to bat with remote learning and quarantine. Sometimes, my mental health didn’t win, but you better believe it will now that summer is here.
So, farewell to spring. Farewell, tea timers. The semester may be over, but you know I’ll be back. And that’s the tea.
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