By Ankur Patel
Protesting in a way that is acceptable to the powers you are protesting against is, in effect, ineffective. When budget cuts come down, the people making those cuts know that there will be protests. It is a calculated decision, the ramifications of which they have already accounted for. They even recognize the possibility of being vilified.
The “Teach Out” on March 2 was a visible demonstration that received media attention and had a decent turnout but was ineffective because it lacked specific points of follow-up action.
We don’t like budget cuts and fee hikes! Yah, neither do I, but what can I do? As it was the Activist Student Coalition’s first major event, we can consider it a success in the fact that at least there was action.
“Class Action” on April 13 had a smaller turnout on this campus but was well coordinated throughout the California State University system thanks to Students for Quality Education and the California Faculty Association. This last demonstration was a success because people on this campus are now more familiar with Chancellor Reed and his salary than they were before.
Reed, the head of the 23 campuses that of the CSU system, Chancellor Mark G. Yudof who heads the 10 campuses of the University of California system, and Chancellor Jack Scott who heads the California Community College system represent public higher education in the state of California. Even so, they are just middle management. They don’t decide how much money comes into the education system. They just decide where that money should go (e.g. their salaries).
It is the California state legislature and the governor together that decide what to do with state tax dollars.
The legislature is made up of 40 state senators and 80 state assemblymen. How many do you know?
That is the problem. These are the people directly responsible for funding the education system in California and we are protesting, yelling, screaming, chanting, holding signs, and we don’t even know who these people are.
Not only should we know them, we should be holding them to their job or voting them out.
In the November 2010 election, 100 state legislatures were up for election, 62 incumbents ran and 62 incumbents won. This after what were arguably the worst two years in the history of California in terms of the concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, the destruction of the environment, and of course, the desecration of public education from kindergarten through college. How did every single incumbent win?
Those in power know freshman come in not knowing what happened before and graduating activists leave without effectively educating the underclassmen. We are taught only about two political parties, we are taught only about capitalism, we are taught to keep our head down to get a job and pay our taxes.
An educated and informed citizenry is dangerous. Between the 23 CSUs, 10 UCs, and the 112 Community Colleges, we alone can elect 27 State Assemblymen. It’s time we made better use of our voice.