Competition shows power of voicing opinions

Jasmine Fleming

Last week I was reminded of the power of speaking out for what someone believes in.

I competed in the Southeast Journalism Conference Op-Ed competition, where I had to write an opinion article on whether the Atlanta Braves should stay at Turner Field or move to SunTrust Park, a new stadium under construction in Cobb County, Georgia.

After listening to a panel of local journalists who have been covering the move, then touring Turner Field, I, along with other journalists, went to the testing area and wrote my editorial.

I listened to many points of view, but I ultimately decided against SunTrust Park. My biggest reason for opposition was the lack of public consultation involved in the decision.

SunTrust Park has an estimated price tag of $600 million, with an estimated $300 million coming from tax dollars. However, officials never asked the community if it wanted a new stadium.

The official defense for use of tax dollars was: baseball is “America’s pastime,” so the new stadium would positively benefit everyone in Georgia.

Doug Sams, a panel journalist with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, said his organization decided to poll citizens after the decision to build SunTrust Park was made, and the majority disagreed with the move. Rebecca Burns, with Atlanta Magazine, said there have been protests against the construction.

Although construction is still continuing, I think the people of Atlanta and Cobb County who demonstrate their concerns should be proud. They now have a voice, and their opposition is being noticed.

This situation reminded me of how issues on campus sometimes frustrate students. A recent example would be the campus-wide poll asking students how they feel about smoking on campus and a smoking ban proposal.

I saw many students expressing their disdain for a smoking ban on social media, but I also saw students say they would not take the survey because they did not see the impact it would have.

Voicing concerns is great, but voicing them where those with the ability to create change can hear them is even better.

If the possibility of a smoking ban is something you would not support, then taking the survey would be one way to make sure our student government understands that. Better yet, talking to them in person, or even submitting an alternate plan that would compromise a smoke-free campus and have smoking areas would be one way to have ideas recognized.

Too many times students believe their ideas do not matter, or they do not know how to express them. What I learned most from the people of Georgia is it is important to let your ideas be known, even if you feel they do not matter.

The only time a point of view becomes irrelevant is when those with the belief remain silent, and speaking up is the best way to influence change.