Let’s learn the difference between ‘club’ and ‘union’

Graphic+by+Ayomi+Wolff
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Let’s learn the difference between ‘club’ and ‘union’

Graphic by Ayomi Wolff

Graphic by Ayomi Wolff

Graphic by Ayomi Wolff

Graphic by Ayomi Wolff

Shirah Lister and Shifra Waskow

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If you have scoured the walls of Wilson over the last couple of months, you will no doubt have seen bright, inviting posters for the Black Student Union, Jewish Student Union, Leftist Student Union, and Atheist/Agnostic Student Union. While original student unions such as the BSU and JSU are positive and productive, the new unions are questionable. We have to ask, is a union needed for non-oppressed groups?

We want to have a safe space for every belief system and ideology, but is a union the best avenue to accomplish that? No. The harsh truth is we do not need a union for a group of people who are the majority or who are not in any way oppressed, and who therefore already have an automatic platform for all their perspectives.

A union is an organized group of people formed to help protect their rights and interests. Unions have been used in the past for teachers, workers, police, and other groups of people who have been treated unfairly to fight wrongful societal norms. Student unions sprung from this ideal and were meant to offer help and safe spaces to oppressed groups. However, many of the new student unions at our school do not face discrimination to any similar extent. For minority students, a union is a place to unpack microaggressions and systematic oppression faced daily. But for students who are in the majority, the purpose of these unions becomes cloudy.

Student unions were initially created to provide a safe space for minorities, ensuring they feel comfortable in a school and societal environment that is often ruthless. These minority students conversely gain a connection with people of the same racial, ethnic, or cultural identity outside the classroom. They are a haven for students to talk about systematic discrimination in a welcoming space without the potential of others discrediting their opinions. The unions are a guaranteed safe-space for students to talk about systematic discrimination and microaggressions without the potential of others discrediting their opinions.

We still undoubtedly support the ability of students to create spaces in which they can share their beliefs and experiences with people they can relate to, but it is time that we learned the difference between club and union. A club is a more appropriate term for the gathering of people dedicated to the same interest or activity. Using the term ‘union’ for these groups of people discredits the objective of uniting those who are in marginalized groups and are not able to gain a social platform for the use of spreading their opinions.

We would never say the Atheist Student Union and the Leftist Student Union should disband, we just believe they should rebrand themselves. Instead of calling themselves a union, become a club. This way, they can keep their community intact without discrediting other unions. A union is not for those treated justly; it is for those who regularly face, or share a history of, bigotry and oppression.