FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stifling Activism on Campus

by LAURA FINLEY

I am writing and raging. Raging because I am tired, oh so tired, of my activism being repressed or limited by bureaucratic minutia and ridiculous protocol.  I am even more upset at the ways bureaucracy stifles my students who, because they are informed and outraged, want to act and are told they can’t, or can only under certain conditions…blah, blah, blah.

I am coming to realize that this squelching of real activism happens on so many fronts, even those we typically associate with freedom to assembly and expression. As a college professor, I have witnessed the difficulty of enacting a true mission for social justice because, any time we get “too controversial,” we might alienate a donor, future donor, or other bureaucratic big-wig. Thus final approval for activism, it seems, must come from, of all places, a division devoted to making money for the institution, not one devoted to its mission or to the empowerment of students as leaders.

It is even worse for students. Increasingly, students are told they can only organize if they get institutional approval. And they must speak out only in designated “free speech zones”—wasn’t the United States founded as a free speech zone?  How oxymoronic, emphasis on the latter half of the word.  Those who have power can lord over those without, curtailing their efforts to envision and begin creating a better world.

It is not just academe where this is a problem, however. I have written before about the bureaucracy of social services and the ways that these entities sometimes harm, rather than help. It is even evident among progressive peace and justice organizations, although I would argue it looks different. It may be disguised as offering a “voice” to all, but when some exercise veto power, or at least attempt to do so via bureaucratic strangling, the result is the same.

For instance, I have seen this squelching of ambition and activism via an electronic handcuff known as track changes. Instead of applauding persons who author critical commentary on social issues, an important form of activism, I would argue, I have seen members of peace and justice organizations attempt to curtail or rein it in by softening the word choice and track-changing the ever-loving-hell out of a document. So, instead of being justice-oriented yet provocative, this activism ends up mundane and, in all likelihood, boring and unread.

What do I recommend? We let people be and we let them put their messages out there. Others who may disagree can do so. Dialogue will ensue—a good thing. We stop using our academic privilege to present as though our style of delivery is better than others. And, we encourage students, academics, and activists to prevail through the bureaucracy until they are heard.

I know I will, rant aside.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology. Her column is syndicated by Peace Voice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail