11 Dec Campus politics and A Christian Student
“I want to experience the pulse of student politics” one student answered another student when he asked “why did you decide to get admission in this particular college and take Arts as your subject?” I also know about a third year IIT student deciding to drop out from IIT to pursue a BA in Political Science to fight for a real change in Academic Circle.
Politics is an active part of students’ life in India. Now a days we can see students standing in solidarity with rape victims, fighting for the cause of faith based convictions, seeking reforms in education, challenging inequality and so on. Many student protests have brought a lot of positive change for the society as well.
During my Under Graduation I stood aloof to Student Politics with a notion that it is contradicting the theme of submitting to the Governing Authorities. However, when I reached my Final Year, though I did not participate in any protests, I skipped classes and sat in the library to express my solidarity to the causes protested. Certain burning issues affecting students’ life pinched me and I tried to do my part in escalating these issues (not as a part of any Political Group). When I came to my Post Graduation though I participated in a few protests. Today as a Staff Worker, based on my availability, I try to be a part of the political discussion forums organized by students where they discuss campus politics.
I think a lack of proper understanding of the Scriptural stand on Campus Politics is one of the key reasons for Christian Students not being a part of Political activism. My recent reading of the Bible has challenged me to think about Campus Politics from a different perspective. Discussing whether we will have to be involved in campus politics in a party based manner is not the scope of this article. However I would like to offer some themes to think about in this issue.
The Biblical character of Daniel is an excellent model student. Daniel got the opportunity to enroll himself into BA Chaldean Literature at the Central Government University during his time. Daniel was very firm in his convictions. His first day at hostel was not very comfortable. Daniel was representing a minority community as a leader and took up the case to his Hostel warden. He was requesting freedom in choosing his food, particularly in relation to exercising his faith’s convictions). He had to dialogue with the warden to explain his case and finally had his request granted for his group. So if God is leading a student to be a leader or to be active in Campus Politics, I think Daniel is a good role model for them. In the same way God enabled Daniel to dialogue and earn the right for a minority community, God will also enable our students to bring justice for the deprived.
Reading of Rom: 13:1-3 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…” This verse was often quoted in my College Chapel and Bible Studies to discourage Christian students from getting involved with campus politics, especially protesting. But I think this verse is quoted out of context. The passage says “whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed… For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad”. What rule should we follow if the administration or rulers are not “terrors to bad conduct” and condone them? In many places we see that happen.
Campuses are places where justice issues are raised. Many times Christian students are unaffected by these instances. But like Esther and Daniel they have to show their concern for the right cause and involve in whatever is appropriate. A student has to be humble; at the same time he has to be concerned about the issues pertaining to students and the Nation at large. He has to be submissive to the authorities; but should also be bold enough and discern like Peter to say “ We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and pursue God’s concerns.
As a word of caution I would say Christian students should be willing to raise issues pertaining to not just the Christian students but they have to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, fight for the rights of those who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.Proverbs 31:8-9. Love your neighbor as you love yourself is also another theme on how Christian students have to selflessly involve in the issues of students from various faiths.
May the Holy Spirit empower each student to hunger and thirst for righteousness; enable to speak, write, and live a life wherein they fight what is evil and endorse what is good. May God bring great change in our campuses through Students empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Mr. Benalin is the UESI Staff for Uttar Pradesh based in Varanasi along with his wife Selin. They are blessed with two children