your cause ain’t my cause
So, yesterday I attended the March 2nd “Day of Action” protest on campus. I was pretty excited. I mean, I love a good march as much as any other 20-something anachro-punk kid with a copy of Rolling Thunder in my backpack. I dragged along my good out-of-towner friend Morgan, a self designated “riot tourist.” While visiting him in Zurich earlier in the year, he was kind enough to show me where all the Swiss students and anarchists congregate for the annual May Day Riots. So, I thought that it was only fitting to show him a bit of the counter-establishment movement and subculture that I dabble in on this side of the Atlantic.
Boy, was I embarrassed.
As we caught Muni to campus, I attempted to explain what people were upset about. California colleges were being hacked apart by statewide budget cuts while student fees were being raised to compensate. Students were unable to graduate because the classes and professors they need to complete their studies are being axed. Programs are being eliminated and students are being turned away from classes. Shit is bad, and only poised to get worse.
We arrived just in time for the assembly in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. As we nestled ourselves in between students and news cameras, we were prepared for some quality discourse on student issues. I was ready to hear some speeches about how a fully funded CSU could eliminate most student fees. I was looking forward to perhaps a strongly worded rant about how CSU schools should be accessible and affordable. I would have absolutely loved to listen to someone talk about CSUs should be governed by students and staff, not Sacramento.
What did I get? A bunch of loosely associated, vague rants about the fail of capitalism and how us students were all Egyptian/Libyans/Wisconsinites (really, use any of these terms. Apparently they are all interchangeable). And somehow, I guess, this had everything to do with organizing and reforming the CSU system.
Now, this is all well and good. I’m all for smashing down the walls of a capitalist society. I’m more than on board with maintaining solidarity with oppressed groups around the world.
But at a rally for student rights and reform? No.
Here was an opportunity to organize. The target audience was right there. Here was SQE’s (Students for Quality Education, the group that organized the march) chance to reach out and actually convince students that they have the power to change their educational narrative. Here was the perfect opportunity for us to all agree on one common issue: the state government has royally and personally fucked over every student who has attended a public institution in the last 7 years.
The crowd dissipated after each fringe issue was introduced. It was especially notable after the first dude stood up to read a Marxist tinged rant on ownership of the educational system. It was about the point that someone started to cover “Don’t Believe The Hype” on accordion that Morgan and I decided that we should investigate another aspect of student life; the pub downstairs.
Education cuts are a gushing wound. Yesterday was an opportunity for students on campus to organize and try to apply pressure to stop the flow of blood. Instead, it turned into a discussion of how the wounded is an overweight cripple who we should really put on a diet. Instead, it tuned into a discussion about how we shouldn’t forget that there are other wounded people in the world. Instead, it turned into a discussion about how perhaps we should use homeopathic remedies instead of gauze to stop the flow.
But for now, the wound bleeds on. And we all suffer.