This post is not about sex. This post is about San Francisco State University, the place where I study and teach sex. The one university with professors that inspired me to learn, to explore the world and use my knowledge for good.
This post is about the misguided students that trashed the business building on Wednesday in a petulant act of protest.
I get it. The university system is crumbling. I’m a graduate student there, studying also at the downtown campus, and I screamed more than a few times over my hiked fees and drastic pay cut. I support protests and demonstrations, but what you did? You acted like children and made ridiculous demands that sounded like hostage negotiations.
Do not compare yourselves to major political movements. Do not liken yourselves to protesters willing to die for their causes. You guys actually demanded that the university turn the heat on before you would even consider negotiating. Weak.
Your collective actions demean meaningful protest and embarrass this generation. You experience history in sound bites and iconic imagery, removed from the complicated contexts of the era and political climate in which they occurred. The only message you take is that the man is bad and you need to fuck shit up.
That shit you fucked up? We all pay. Students, professors, everyone. The university system has already lost millions in funding, far more than Robert Corrigan’s six figure salary. (A salary, I might add, earned from years of service and dedication to higher education.) You added to this toll on Wednesday because, why? Did building occupation seem like the neat thing to do? What did you hope to accomplish?
Your list of ultimatums illuminates your naivety. You demanded:
“That student loans be forgiven” and “That education, from kindergarten to PHD, be free of charge.” Education costs money. I’m guessing you wouldn’t know about that because I sense you do not have jobs. How else can you spend the middle of the week vandalizing a building while locked inside?
“That the imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Gaza are ended, and that money is used to feed and clothe the poor.” Iraq I’ll give you, and I know nothing about Pakistan or Gaza, but do you even understand what is going on in Afghanistan? Do you really think blogging your tantrum from inside of a university building will end the wars? The world is much bigger than you realize and conflict more complex. War is tragic, indeed, but armed conflict is sometimes necessary. I do not want war. We need to end war. Your time is better spent understanding how to prevent war, not kicking and screaming about immediate withdrawal.
“We demand that the presidents of the universities and the trustees have their salaries redused [sic] to the level of janitors.” What motivation is there to work harder than others and dedicate your life when you are not compensated accordingly? Everyone should receive proper pay for their skills.
I could go on and on with this list but I will end with your most ridiculous demand of all: “That no disciplinary action be taken against us for our action.”
What. The. Fuck. You want to demonstrate but lack the courage of your convictions to risk punishment? In many other countries, even in the recent history of our country, the government would shoot you. No negotiations. Just a bullet to your head or torso. And you demand impunity?
Your hearts are in the right place. Your motives are questionable. Your actions disgraceful. I am sometimes ashamed of my fellow students who seek meaning and action in the world without working towards personal development and educational accomplishments. I work as a teaching assistant and have seen my fair share of students complaining about a 50 page reading assignment that week. Students that would rather sit around and drink or surf the internet than seize the opportunity to become educated.
We are a spoiled bunch. Generations before us shed their blood to pave paths on which we could walk, protest and demonstrate. Leaders before us sacrificed a great many things for our basic civil rights. We treat these rights shamefully.
Fight the inequalities in our system. Rail against them, but do so with purpose and meaning. Do not demand the world conform to your desires. Create solutions to the problems instead of demanding someone else take care of them. Educate yourselves to understand the nuances of politics so that you may truly change this system.
There is corruption. There are major problems. But this is not some battle between those with power and those without. Rally taxpayers to invest in our future again. Protest at the capital. Hell, protest at board members’ houses.
At the very least, be creative in raising awareness instead of copying moves from protesters past with no thought to efficacy. You make us all look bad.