FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Universities are the Right Place to Demand Change

Finally, events have converged to mobilize our new leaders—young Americans. Who are students but the very women and men who will lead this country spiritually, economically, politically? We press them into college to imbibe progressive ideals, to hone their communication skills, to learn about justice (and injustice), to build enduring personal networks—i.e. to prepare for active participation in society. Hopefully while bettering themselves they enhance our culture, our government, and our values?

Yet look at what this generation is facing:–years of student debt, weary-part-time-underpaid adjunct lecturers, increasing dormitory fees, skyrocketing book prices, administrations that protect campus rapists, brutish fraternity practices, and racial bias overseen my presidents with million dollar salaries.

Some say the current uprisings on campuses beginning at University of Missouri were aroused in part by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and the Black Lives Matter movement in cities across the nation.  Thankfully. Who better to have led this revolt than Black football heroes who for too long have been compromised by glory and monetary rewards for athletic achievements? (“Our star basketball team is multi-racial; that should be sufficient.”) Whatever the inspiration, voices of students in the forefront of political demands for change are overdue. When can we remember the last campus-based revolt? (It was another generation when it probably focused on overseas wars that overshadow daily injustices at home.)

$1.2 trillion is said to be the total accumulated student debt in the USA today. Without this staggering statistic, we live personal stories and conditions in our own family, our students and classmates, our co-workers and their children. On the one hand we learn about abuse on campus and wild student behavior on spring-break; on the other side, there’s the single mother holding down a job while she pursues her degree. This is American university culture! So is the common practice of underpaid college workers–adjunct teachers and other employees. Many professors who enjoy abundant privileges ignore staff inequalities around them just as they overlook racist practices that today’s students are bringing to public attention due to their raised intolerance of innuendo which, like gender and religious insults, is simply unacceptable. Thus their multiple demands.

The case of Steven Salaita who was denied his appointment at U. Illinois ended in success with a substantial financial settlement. It’s a new victory in an American community of scholars who stood by as many more colleagues saw contracts cancelled because their political beliefs were seen as a threat to university vested interests and the status quo.

The current campus uprisings are significant because these youths are exercising nascent leadership, also because the university had perhaps lost its place in American society as the arena where ideals of equality and free speech are held most sacred. Where else do we expect vigorous debate if not here; where else do we expect parity if not here; where can we challenge the status quo if not here? Where else should social media be an effective political tool? Where can we expect hopes to be planted and nourished if not here?

Finally, although it’s not been cited as factoring into these revolts, there’s the current national election campaign underway. Surely that ‘circus’ disturbs many would-be first time voters anticipating next November. Either they are watching in disgust or cynicism and thinking: “None of these guys is going to stop police violence, cancel our debts or assure us jobs. Let’s move it ourselves”.

More articles by:

Barbara Nimri Aziz is a New York based anthropologist and journalist. Find her work at www.RadioTahrir.org. She was a longtime producer at Pacifica-WBAI Radio in NY.

September 20, 2018
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail