University Politics

Barillari: Obama’s hopes for societal progress exhibited, practiced at SU

Progress. An accomplishment, a necessity. What we should embrace and never resist, what we should cherish and never refuse to accept. It is putting one foot in front of the other, conceptualizing and seeing the truth within the world around you.

From the streets of Syracuse University to the corridors of Capitol Hill, progress is in motion. President Barack Obama understands its essentiality and the importance of acting to create it. He believes in moving toward it. Chancellor Nancy Cantor does, too.

With each deliberately chosen word in his inaugural address, Obama spoke of progress – progress for the working world of the future, for education and for the environment. From equal pay for women to gun violence to immigration to gay rights, he advocates for progress.

SU is a place where Obama’s hope for national progress is taking shape and moving forward each and every day.

Since its founding in 1870, SU has been a place where the big ideas of tomorrow are fostered and crafted. Ideas backed with value, innovation and reason for progress.

But more importantly, this campus is a place where action is taken time and again. This desire to make change has been exhibited in large movements, likethe 1970 student strike advocating against the Vietnam War, and in peaceful demonstrations like the newly instated Impact Week, where students work to make Syracuse a better place for all who encompass it.

These actions lead to progress.

The education we are receiving at SU, which encourages well-rounded intellectuals versed in many fields and studies, is preparing us to join an unpredictable workforce. We are also aided in affording this experience. About 75 percent of students receive some form of financial support, meaning more can afford an increasingly expensive college education. This is progress.

Women dominate the highest leadership positions for faculty and students, from Chancellor Cantor to Student Association President Allie Curtis. SU women also outnumber men by 56 to 44 percent of the undergraduate population. This is progress.

SU is the host to students from around the world, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and expanding socioeconomic backgrounds. This push for more diversity and inclusivity is progress.

Because SU is in New York state, we also observe the toughest gun control measures in the nation and the legality of same-sex marriage. This, too, is progress.

As a nation and as a university community, we will continue to witness different actors, circumstances, celebrated events and despairing crises as our history is written.

It is how we recognize the evolvement of this country’s citizens and act on those recognitions that will deem us ultimately successful or not. We can only fully find this success if we allow societal progress to take place.

The founding fathers wrote us guidelines to be followed. But they also left room for adaptation to allow us to live fully in the present, building on our past but not relying on it for every choice we make in the future.

We as a people and students have a right to not fear gunfire, a right to build sustainability through education and the environment, and a right to make progress for ourselves.

We are different shades of the same skin, different genders with the same aspirations and different sexual orientations on the same quest for love. We are the new United States of America. We are SU.

Rachael Barillari is the editorial editor and a junior political science and Middle Eastern studies major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at and followed on Twitter @R_Barillari.




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