Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A return to civil disobedience

I went to a very liberal college, where the most popular on-campus groups were the Queer Coalition and the Student Activist Union. The College Republicans had eight members (out of a total student body of 2400). The College Democrats were considered too centrist by most. And yet in the four years I was there, I only saw one protest. And protest might be too strong a word--about fifteen students got together to stand in front of the college's front gates and protest a speech given by a pro-life activist.

In fact, when I have spoken with people who went to college in the '60s and '70s, they often lament the general apathy of college students today. They wonder what happened to real protests--people chaining themselves to trees, carrying signs, screaming into bullhorns.

And so I have been interested in what's going on at Gallaudet University over the past few weeks. I'm not sure how much of this has hit the mainstream media and how much of this is a local DC story, but I think it has been in the news enough to qualify, at least somewhat, as pop culture. After all, civil disobedience used to be a cornerstone of popular culture.

Students have shut down the campus, protesting against the appointment of a new president that the student body, and much of the faculty, does not support. News coverage hasn't been great about getting into the substance of the students' demands, so I did some searching today. First I came across this chat with a student leader of the protests, which I found wholly unhelpful. She continually states that the students believe in shared governance, but doesn't expand on those buzz words very much, and more often than not she side-steps questions or only answers part of a larger question. However, she does direct readers to a website that lays out the points of contention students and faculty have with the new presidential appointment, which actually is pretty helpful in getting one up to speed on the issues.

But what I find most heartening about this situation is that students are actually doing something. They have decided to make a statement about what they consider an injustice. It is commendable that students care enough about their school to take a stand.


Blogger Laura Holt said...

I had the same reaction to this story when I heard about it. I theory, protesting is great, but when I actually SEE a protest? I feel vaguely embarassed for the participants. I think that's part of the modern condition, strong emotion seems kind of, well, goofy.

10/19/2006 4:22 PM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Aw. I don't feel embarassed for them when I watch the protest. I do feel embarassed for them when they have a representative chatting on washingtonpost.com who can't seem to point to one specific example and uses poor grammar throughout. But everything I read on their website was well-written and made sense, so maybe the Post chat was an aberration?

10/19/2006 4:24 PM  

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