Onward Laptop Soldiers….
Solidarity has such a noble ring to it that you can see where students can get riled up in the word alone. The protests at New York University this week were viewed by many people, and many students, as less than stellar. The tactics used by the students was brought into question, but the reasoning for the protest is more interesting.
Written everywhere is how these were rich kids that were trying to show their muscle as malcontents when they really have little for which to complain. In fairness, they may not all be wealthy, but they probably knew what the tuition was before they agreed to attend NYU. A friend of mine that works for the Clinton Foundation went to Hunter College on a full scholarship. I asked him why he chose Hunter when he could have gone anyplace. He said that it was a good school and the price was right. An NYU education is worth every penny (and there are a lot of those) but the costs are something that students need to consider when they attend a private university.
Look closer at the protesters’ ‘occupation demands,’ and the protest is even more questionable. First on their list of demands was that they get amnesty for protesting. That’s first on their list! In other words, of all these things that matter to them, first on the list is that they cannot get into any trouble for this. Part of the romance of a hard fought protest is that you take the consequences.
The second demand is even better; “full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.” They’re referring to the disruption that they caused.
Here are ‘occupation demands’ seven and eight:
“Annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students.”
“That the university donates all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.”
There is no question that Gaza could use help as the city sits in the middle of a chaotic bombing campaign between Israel and the ruling Palestinian government. But where does NYU come in as having to be the source of this. Are there no Americans that can use this scholarship money? Are there no troubled educational institutions in the US that can use NYU’s excess supplies?
You’ve read about the closing of many Catholic schools in the city and around the country. There are clearly schools, both private and public (of higher and lower education) that are struggling and closing. There are students in the United States that need financial assistance.
The protesters demanded that all university workers earn a living wage, which makes sense. But while you might nod in agreement, consider that some these demands cost money. And where will that come from? See complaint #9, “Tuition stabilization for all students.”
I do agree with these students that tuition is too high and that most financial aid offices are not helpful enough.
Perhaps the most awkward part of this movement is the name, TakeBackNYU! This is a private university where people are very lucky to attend, after they applied to get in. It was never their institution to take back. It sounds similar to a kid living with his parents threatening to take back the house, from the owners that allow him to live there.
In the end, nobody got hurt – and that is a good thing. It was only a few years ago that NYU had a rash of suicides where students were jumping off of the top floors of the library. Passive resistance is never the worst thing in the world, even if the cause questionable.