Creating change requires both your voice and your actions

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Photo by Ken Scarboro / Editor in chief Empty seats greeted panelists at the Big Politics state-level town hall. Students could have had the chance to shake hands and speak with elected officials who can influence education.

Last Thursday CSUN hosted two events that should have gone hand-in-hand.  “Where’s the Money?” gave an opportunity to learn more about the CSU’s budget and the second Big Politics event provided a chance to meet with people who can directly affect education.

My question for all the students who were at Thursday’s “Where’s the Money?” lecture, all the student activists and all those who were not at Big Politics is: where the fuck were you?

First up in the evening was “Where’s the Money?”, a lecture by Eastern Michigan University accounting professor Howard Bunsis.  He conducted an independent financial analysis of the CSU and several CSU campuses, CSUN being one, and presented his findings in a digestible format.  Not even an hour later was the A.S. Big Politics state-level town hall.  A.S. brought a Republican assemblyman, Democratic state senator and two members of the business community to discuss California’s current political climate and how we can move forward to mend our state.

Bunsis spoke to a packed classroom; people were sitting on the floor and standing in the aisles.  Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, Sen. Kevin de Leon, Chair Elect of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association Coby King and Wood Ranch restaurant founder Eric Anders spoke to just 50 students while 110 seats sat vacant.

To be fair, I understand that people have class, work and a social life, but if you could have been there you should have been there.

You should have been there especially if you were at Bunsis’ lecture. Not only did A.S. Senator Cinzia Lettieri invite you at the opening of the lecture, but Bunsis himself encouraged you afterward to go so you could speak to your elected officials with your new-found knowledge.

As for the activists, I know you are pissed at A.S. because they did not invite your Green Party candidate to the national debate and then ejected several of you from the debate. However, Michael Powelson did not reach out to be part of Big Politics, and the first people to throw a hissy-fit were CSUN Greens, not Powelson or anyone on his staff. So how much blame for Powelson’s exclusion really belongs to A.S.? I am just as sick of this two-party political gridlock as you are, but from the childish display you put forth I cannot blame A.S. for ejecting you from the debate. Granted the moderator, KFI conservative talk radio host Bill Handel, was quite offensive in the way he addressed your hecklers, but as we all know, two wrongs do not make a right.

If you think you achieved something through this symbolic challenge of authority, you did.  You successfully proved you are incapable of providing constructive criticism and solidified the view that the fringes are not a serious part of the political realm.

Your absence, be it a purposeful boycott or you just forgot about it, from the state-level forum proved another point. All of those empty seats proved to more elected officials that students do not care. Sure, there wasn’t an open forum portion of the panel, but there was time at the end of Thursday’s Big Politics for networking with the panelists. You could have had one-on-one time with people who directly impact decisions and attitudes about education in Sacramento. Instead, you proved students cannot be bothered to give input and will roll over to whatever Sacramento hands us.

So how about this? For the next installment of Big Politics, grow up: do your homework, look presentable and ask educated questions at the right time (by the way, the right time is not when someone else is speaking).  If we can prove to our politicians that students are educated on the issues, passionate, civilized and unified, perhaps they’ll take us seriously for once.


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  • http://twitter.com/RabbleRoused J. Matthew


    If you think you achieved something through this symbolic challenge of authority, you did.  You successfully proved you are incapable of providing constructive criticism and solidified the view that the fringes are not a serious part of the political realm.” Brilliant. I am going to use this.

  • http://twitter.com/dc_us David Curtis

    OR try including all the candidates and there won’t be any charges of exclusion. Which is exactly what happens: exclusion. The two corporate whore candidates get included, everybody else doesn’t.
    Include all the candidates and maybe more people will show up.

  • EdyAlvarez

    -To be fair, Michael Powelson turned in his signatures to be on the ballot late February-March(I forget the exact deadline). Ankur and I helped out whenever we could(at one point being harassed by police for collecting signatures in front of the SRC), but we ended having to pay most of the $1,600 dollar filing fee to be on the ballot as a qualified candidate. The point I would like to make is that the Greens did not know about the Congressional Debate until around late March, by which time, it seemed rather late to get in the debate. We were not sure whether the state would even qualify Powelson to be on the ballot, so until we found out he made it, we immediately change our mindset into campaign mode. And please do not bash our website. We are definitely not rolling in money(understatement) and just about everything we do had to be donated. The website was created for us by a CSUN Professor on his spare time. We do whatever we can.

    I attended the first two AS meetings by myself and made open commentary as soon as I found out about the event in favor of putting Powelson on the debate. Ankur had class at that time. (Again, Greens are for all intents and purposes, are just two students on campus, although we have many Allies, including our advising Professor). I spoke many times to Billy Rider(main organizer of the committee in charge of putting on Big Politics) and he certainly sounded in favor of having Powelson on the debate, as did other Senators. 

    But at some point, whatever hope we had seem to be slipping away quickly as vague excuses began mounting up as to why Powelson would not be included, including an official letter by AS stating why they felt Powelson would, by their standards, take away from the event. (And I can hand everyone that letter if you would like it). At this point, my recollection begins getting muddy due to overlapping conflicting views of how everything went down, but at one point, I said,”To hell with it, we are protesting!” I just could not believe our campus was engaging in political exclusion, and I kept recalling all past political exclusions by all sorts of establishment, so I felt it was the right thing to do. More exact, I recalled Green Gubernatorial Candidate in 2010 Laura Wells being arrested for simply having a valid ticket to be in the audience. This incident is very well documented(On Youtube), and she was arrested and had to go to court for “trespassing.” I also recalled Ralph Nader being told to leave the premises in the 2000 election hosted by Fox. He had received an invite from Fox to be in the facilities to “watch” the debate, and I believe he had also received a ticket from a student to be an audience member. When he arrived, he was told he would be arrested if he did not leave the premises.(This is well documented as well if you don’t believe me).

    …But at some point, civic disobedience becomes the last alternative for getting through, which is in essence what Occupy is all about. We’ve tried and exhausted just about all forms of political inclusion and they don’t work, so what can you expect? I see how the establishment puts up all sorts of political barriers for getting on the ballot, so I knew I could not easily let this slip by…-The Greens are essentially just myself and Ankur. It’s not like we are this big political club on campus. We are a chartered club, but it’s mostly just to be recognized. We do everything ourselves whenever we can. Ankur is not even registered in the Green Party, he’s a registered independent.-Just to clarify a technicality, OccupyCSUN was not technically a CSUN Greens event. Although Ankur and I were there most of the time(Ankur on some days being the only one sleeping over by himself, especially during Thanksgiving weekend), we did not “host” the event per se. But that’s the horizontal management Occupy strives for. I feel we were successful on many fronts, and also ineffecive in others. But recounting OccupyCSUN is another story.-I agree, that room on Thursday should have been packed. But let’s not forget, that day was also the second day of the hunger strikes. As I recall, I was with the hunger strikers until around 4:30pm, at which time, I had to leave to work on the Powelson Congressional Campaign. Also, my understanding was that it was an actual debate, not a meet-and-greet.  

    Again, Ankur and myself try to do the most we can whenever we can. 

    *Oh yeah, we were approached to do a political event for just Powelson, like a small town-hall meeting about one week before the debate was to take place. Finals, the fact it takes 3-4 weeks to get anything approved by AS(by our experience), the semester will literally be over, advertisement, and my strong urgency and immediacy of working to get Powelson  in the actual debate before beginning work on a town-hall meeting all contributed in myself not going through with it.

  • ynanya

    An educational institution should be inclusive of all candidates and should not be a part of “Big Politics.”  We used to have stronger laws regulating political fairness, but in the era of “Big Business” the very basics of democacy are overlooked, even at universities–institutions that should know better.

    ynania

  • Ankur Patel

    A conversation that needs to be had.

    The same few people can’t be everywhere all the time. I had class Thursday afternoon and evening…

    We have to pick and choose the events that we get riled up about, but it is time people got riled up. Now it is about directing that fervor in the right direction.

    Clearly directing our frustrations at other student activists isn’t the right answer.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AVTX3PSSLXG23C6UAA4SSSGNWM Ninety-nine

    Great article, Ken. Your voice of reason is beyond correct on so many levels. Students claim they want political engagement, but that would divorce them from Farmville or an important meeting with colleagues at Chipotle. And god forbid we miss thought-provoking Thursday night lineups like “The Voice, Gossip Girl or How I Met Your Mother.” What about, “How I Met My Politician?” After all, politicians are the gossip from all the nutty voices on this campus, right? Not even the likes of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and Senator De Leon could get our valiant Northridge Knight, Ankur Patel to leave his crazy castle.

    In all honesty, Michelangelo brings up a good point – students have class and work; point taken. That’s a valid excuse for the 99% of us who actually go to class, but that’s not an excuse for our > 1% of Student Inactivists – I’d be surprised to see them holding a book let alone going to class; as far as they know, “Moodle” is something they can’t eat right now or tuition will magically go up. Besides, they are far too busy to meet state legislators that slash our budget. So busy, they couldn’t meet with Chancellor Chuck after he agrees to personally speak with them about their latest “political diet” fad. How can you meet with the Chancellor or engage state legislators when meals need to be missed; signs need to be misspelled; and mirages are waiting to be screamed at? The state event’s free pizza was probably no help either – it was most likely too tempting for our brave hunger strikers battling May’s vicious valley weather with their burly blankets and Boba beverages. More likely though, the inactivists didn’t want to support an event sponsored by an evil pizza corporation that probably abuses un-unionized delivery men and capitalizes on nimble, nine-year-old fingers for pepperoni placement… that’s probably it.

    And what about all the CFA nutjobs and their brainwashed student pawns who packed the house for “Where’s the Money?” Here’s a hint… the “money” was a couple hundred yards away from you… in the Grand Salon… following your “unbiased” CSU budget presentation. Woops! You knew where the money was; thanks to the Sundial, we now know that AS reps stopped by to invite you. Your speaker even encouraged you to attend. I guess your speaker, Professor Bunsis, didn’t know attendance would somehow be supporting an event that didn’t invite your former, fellow, fool of a colleague to Big Politics’ first event. 

    Let’s be honest, AS didn’t run the best ad campaign and the events have not been perfect. They screwed up in a lot of ways, but they did something that no one else did – they brought politicians to students. Which club was planning to do that? It certainly wasn’t the CSUN Greens – they prefer protesting events over planning them. Which professor, department, or college was working on something similar? They’re too busy fighting for pay raises when their not getting student labor at Jiffy Lube to change the oil on their BMWs. Unless I missed a flier or some kind of vandalism advertising such an event, there wasn’t even a debate scheduled on campus until AS planned one, but these loony teacher-preachers fall off their rockers when the minute they find out their kooky colleague was not invited. He has not been getting invited all year by anyone, but now it’s a big deal all of a sudden? Why didn’t any of you invite him to speak or maybe even organize your own debate? Would that be against your inactivist, political whine-tist, non-objectives?

    Hmmm, I can take a guess why your Green Party goon wasn’t invited… that would be the equivalent of inviting a homeless man reciting bible verses with sock puppets to the debate. It doesn’t surprise me that he CONTINUES to not be invited; I wouldn’t want to be associated with “your guy” either (let alone his excuse for a webmaster). Your candidate is a waste of time and unrecognizable on any real or imagined political landscape. His so-called campus supporters probably wouldn’t even recognize him and begin hurling gluten-free, fair trade tomatoes his way in protest of someone ranting besides them.

    The bottom line is that our inactivist students and professors care only about what they do NOT have… unless they can take credit for it of course (play on words?). When something’s planned on campus, they either criticize it, protest/interrupt it, or avoid it all together – heaven forbid they promote it, support it, or even… plan it? 

    Ken Scarboro is absolutely right, “For the next installment of Big Politics, grow up: do your homework, look presentable and ask educated questions at the right time (by the way, the right time is not when someone else is speaking). If we can prove to our politicians that students are educated on the issues, passionate, civilized and unified, perhaps they’ll take us seriously for once.”

    “For once” is the key to his intelligent suggestion. Maybe we can act like intelligent adults and serious voters rather than PCP-induced, urban campers. Or… wait! Wait! We can always keep on demonizing Chancellor Chuck with posters and loud noises; that really puts him in a mood to work with your “demands.” Demands are another great strategy! Nothing gets negotiations and bargaining going like peyote-fueled demands. And when demands don’t work, we can starve ourselves into the hospitals to make room in classes for more students. But of course, the ultimate strategy is to not show up when state legislators do; that really showed them……… that you don’t care. Often times, the silent majority is inclined to think that you’re working to further cripple the CSU – you’re certainly not helping it.

    Keep up the good work everyone! The $750 million dollar cut to the CSU this academic year alone further proves the success of your inebriated napkin plans. Nothing shows a politician you care more like an empty room. But boy are we (the actual 99% of students) constantly convinced by your events with tents and no-food-nonsense. And nothing shows legislators you care more than protesters with acoustic guitars! Apparently you’re also protesting music lessons? Is that because tuition for “Intro to Music” is too high or is harmonic hara-kiri also on the menu with fasting? 

    Super effective stuff! You’re going places… like the homeless shelter and the loony bin… certainly not class or Big Politics though. “Chancellor Chuck Voodoo Dolls” anyone?

    • VladLenin

      Ninety Nine,

      You’re killin me!  Brilliant!

      One suggestion though. You’re writing at a College level. If you want your message to be received by a majority of your readers, you need to dumb it down a bit. The attention span of the average college student, is about 50-100 words, or so.

      Keep up the great work! You give me hope.

      Peace out!

      Vlad

    • Michelangelo_L

      “They screwed up in a lot of ways, but they did something that no one else did – they brought politicians to students. Which club was planning to do that?”

      The Young Dems were initially approached about co-sponsoring the Big Politics event actually. From what I understand though they were then left out without reason. The event itself wasn’t publicly known until relatively late. In defense of the Greens, they really didn’t have much time between the event being announced to get Powelson in through normal channels. That doesn’t excuse their heckling during the debate, but it wasn’t entirely their fault either. 

      “It certainly wasn’t the CSUN Greens – they prefer protesting events over planning them.”

      They enjoy protesting, but they do actually plan events. Last semester Powelson himself had a presentation about how the economic crisis occurred. It was biased with his ideology and poor understanding of economics of course. But it did occur. 

      They held the Occupy CSUN event last semester as well. It was poorly organized and, again, biased towards their ideology. Poor innocent grass was killed. But they did do it. They held general assemblies, and to their credit did offer to allow non-greens to participate. They had their ‘underground university’ as well if memory serves. 

      I’m not saying by any degree that I agree with their ideology or their tactics. But they do plan events more than other political clubs on campus.  

      “He has not been getting invited all year by anyone, but now it’s a big deal all of a sudden?”

      Actually he was invited to Pierce College’s debate. A debate whose principal organizers were libertarians, but I digress. 

      On a side note. I had the pleasure of speaking to talking to those who planned Pierce’s congressional debate and they noted that Berman was hard to get to agree to debate. And it wasn’t an isolated incident either. Apparently Berman tries to avoid debates whenever possible and the only reason he seems to be doing them as much this election cycle is because Sherman has an actual chance of beating him. 

      “Besides, they are far too busy to meet state legislators that slash our budget.”

      … I really /really/ hate to defend Patel since we disagree on several points, but I have to point out that this isn’t the case. Ankur actually went out of his way during the last protests in Sacramento to try to get people to meet with the legislators. They had meetings planned and tried to get students prepped on how to conduct themselves. Few people were interested in that route, but he did give it an earnest try.

      Gah! Now if you’ll excuse me I need to do something very libertarian to counter balance  things.

    • Jay Matthew

      You are brilliant.

  • Michelangelo_L

    “My question for all the students who were at Thursday’s “Where’s the Money?” lecture, all the student activists and all those who were not at Big Politics is: where the fuck were you?” 

    First seat to the left. Fourth row. Left side (from the photo) or stage right if you prefer. 

    I left when another class of mine was about to begin. To be honest though the speakers were dull. They stuck to the status quo and only had petty arguments. 

    What did you expect? Previous Sundial pieces have noted the lack of a political activism on campus, and things haven’t really changed since then. 

    I disagree with the Greens on several matters, including their behavior during the Congressional debate, but in their defense they do actually get out. You can’t blame them for the lack of attendants to the State debate. Blame the event being held late Thursday night, when the weekend has started for most students. Blame the fact that 60% of students are commuters and can’t afford to stay on campus. It’s one thing to disagree with people’s political views or how they try to reach them, but it’s another thing to blame them for everything that goes wrong.

    It is possible to increase political activity on campus. It won’t however be an easy mission. The Big Politics event were a great start, but you can’t expect people to suddenly become politically active after one event. You have to work at it. You have to expect that several events will be flops, and not try to blame scapegoats for their failure. 

    I am currently trying to get a series of inter-club debates between the campus Young Democrats/Greens/Conservatives/Libertarian clubs. Thus far the Dems seem to be interested and I’m still waiting on responses from the other two clubs. I’m hoping that having a series of informal political debates between students will be successful. Hopefully this will attract students who are interested in more than the usual Republican/Democrat divide. More importantly though, I am sure that student debates will be infinitely more fun than hearing Berman and Sherman go at it. 

    If anyone is interested in helping out my email is michelangelolandgrave@gmail.com.