Israel Najarro/ Guest Writer
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” – C.S. Lewis
Over the past two and half years since I began my academic journey at Florida International University, the above quote has resonated with me more and more as a student veteran.
As Veteran’s Day rolls around again, I am reminded of the profound disconnect there is between Campus administrators and the Veteran population they wish to serve. Like any minority community, student veterans have unique desires and needs on campus pertaining to their achieving academic and professional goals.
Identifying these desires and needs can be incredibly difficult for a veteran advocate, even more so for an administrator with limited experience with the veteran population.
Too often, we have found that campus administrators fall back on their own collective experience, dealing with general population students and try to put the veteran community into that “one size fits all” box.
Years of lackluster service, programming and communication with the veteran community was the result. This is where the tyranny of good intentions comes into play and what I wish to caution our greater community about.
Assuming that you know more about the people under your care than they do about themselves is a recipe for disaster. Putting forth plans of action because you can or because you are required to rather than targeting a specific need from your community is also emblematic of dysfunction and a disconnect from reality.
In over a decade of conflict spurred on by the Global War on Terrorism, thousands of student veterans have entered the halls of Florida International University, and it breaks my heart to know that most of my brothers and sisters have fallen through the cracks because of misguided engagement from the University staff who probably believed they were doing the right thing all along.
It is this tyranny that I and my friends in Student Veterans of America has strived to break in recent years. We have been blessed with great members and progressive advocates in Student Government and Student Affairs who recognize our plight and believe that the University could do more for the Veteran population, and for minority populations in general.
While my time at Florida International University draws to a close, I am proud that we have finally gotten our foot in the door and while change has been dreadfully and painfully slow, at least it’s going in the right direction.
I implore all leaders and administrators to not forget the lessons of yesterday and remove themselves from their comfort zones so that they can get to know their veteran population. These men and women have done so much for all of us back home and deserve no less than quality, efficient and productive service in return.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo taken from Flickr.