Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In Their Own Words: Professor Small Fry

I'm not sure I have a lot to contribute, since I'm not involved in any OWS stuff, just following the hell out of it. I saw a chalking on campus about Occupy **University, and I'm going to check it out tomorrow. I haven't had/made an opportunity to get involved, and I'm a little hesitant to because I don't think the group's goals are uniform or well-defined enough to make an impact.
This seems to be a common thread of many - many who are smart, passionate, and willing to get involved and help where necessary. And like many she even supports the principles. But the format of the "movement" turns her off.

I support the movement and hope that it succeeds in energizing sane people against the rich conservatives (and any liberals who've gone over to the dark side of valuing their own money over quality of life for all Americans) who are manipulating politics and rigging the system in their own favor.

I'm definitely supportive of the movement, but I fear it can't last unless people articulate real goals and can convince detractors to see protestors as making a valuable contribution to political discourse.

So you're supportive but not involved?

 I feel like I'm still sorting out where I stand on all this, and I admit I'm a little chicken shit in that I haven't put myself out there, but I also feel like I'm still in a tenuous (read: untenured) position and that I should be wary of getting too involved. 

What would it take for you to get more visibly involved?
I think a clearer message on particular policies would help. I perhaps should clarify, too: I support that people are taking action and starting to recognize some problems with our political system (that are more real and meaningful than those identified by, say, the Tea Party), but I can't personally support the movement until they somehow make it matter to me and make it clear to those of us on the fence that it is more of a real movement rather than a bunch of random groups of people who don't know what else to do and are upset about a host of problems that I may or may not agree with.

The violence at Berkeley and Davis do concern me. A former student was among the grad students beaten, and, come on, they beat up Robert Haas and yanked a prof by the hair? For standing there? That kind of action concerns me, and some, perhaps alarmist, faculty here are concerned that something like this could come to [my university] with tuition on the rise and such. A colleague noted that for the most part, [our mid-western state] hasn't experienced the tuition increases and so forth that are driving some of the student protestors out west, but they may well be coming.

I'm not sure that I would be willing to get visibly involved. I think that OWS is going to have to start getting organized and taking more meaningful actions (I don't know what - petitions, statements, something tangible that requires their opponents to respond with something more than force and pepper spray), or else it's going to just fade away or be a passing fad. As much as I do not like the Tea Party, they organized, they had a few main messages, and they took over some areas (probably because they were not-so-secretly funded by corporation bigwigs who took advantage of stupid people). OWS is an alternative group disgruntled at big corporations and big government that I could feasibly perhaps support - if they could just be clear about what I'd be supporting.

And if it had happened on your campus? 
... yeah, if my whole department were getting involved, if it were my students out there getting pepper sprayed and abused verbally or physically, I think I'd have to get involved - not just due to peer pressure but because the madness would be more immediate and seem to require an immediate response. I know you've known this for a while, but it's just another instance in which [the midwest] is isolated from the major centers of action on either coast.

1 comment:

  1. When you say if it were your students out there - does that include the ones who are annoying?

    No but seriously, does it?

    Okay, really though do you think that more of us would take it more seriously if we were directly impacted by violence? Is that the point?

    Also, what do you think about the idea that OWS is the "conscience" of the Progressive party. IN WHAT WAY WHATSOEVER? I know you didn't say that or suggest that I just want to know what you think about that since you're probably a pretty moral person.