Posts Tagged ‘college park

19
Feb
10

Resist, Reclaim, Rebuild

On March 4, students across the nation will take action to reclaim education. The University as it exists is different than the University as we would have it exist. Students are the base of the University; we pay tuition, sit in classes, drive the buses, play sports and cheer in the stands. We provide whatever communal spirit exists. If the University exists as more than a series of buildings, then it begins with us. And yet, administrators and the state run our school as a business, draining more and more in tuition and fees out of students and their families while classes grow and the quality of our educational experience declines. We are not unique.

A national poll released this week reveals that  60 percent of respondents agree that “Colleges today are like most businesses and mainly care about the bottom line.” In 2003, the same number of respondents thought college was necessary for a person to be successful and that a college education is available to the vast majority of qualified motivated students. Today, 27 percent more believe the former than the later.

At Maryland, we don’t have to look far to see the national consensus confirmed. We’re told how lucky we are that tuition is only increasing three percent, while at the same time courses are cut and professors furloughed. Before a renegade band of students and faculty embarrassed the administration out of it, they planned to bulldoze some of the last wooded area on campus to build a bunch of private stores. Instead they paid $12 million for the Washington Post building. Funny how there’s always money for a shopping mall, even in a recession. When did we decide it was the school’s job to build a mall? This has nothing to do with education and everything to do with money.

The administration blames the Governor and the Governor blames the economy and we all admit that the economy is not subject to our control. Bullshit. Barack Obama has shown us what a brilliant, idealistic and inspiring president can do with a majority in both houses of congress and a popular mandate for change: not much. Bankers get bailouts and students get cuts. If our democracy can’t reflect the wants and needs of its constituents when they come into conflict with corporate interests, then our democracy is broken. If our University can’t reflect the wants and needs of its students when they come into conflict with corporate interests, then our University is broken.

The University exists from its charter for our education, and we have a duty to enforce that mandate. We know that the University as it exists cannot fix itself. The arrows are going the other direction, Maryland is getting less accessible to working class and minority students, focusing less on educational quality while paying its administrators more and its teachers less. We are told that this is the way these things go, that nothing is to be done.

When Dr. Cordell Black stood up for quality education, for looking beyond SAT scores and seeing students as people instead of piggy banks, the provost called him a relic and tossed him to the curb. It’s up to us to show that another way is possible. We must create the University we desire in the only place we have: the University as it exists. On March 4, we attempt to make it a reality. There is no organization behind the day’s plans, there are no official meetings, no one votes to approve actions. With federal, state, local and student governments all dysfunctional, we figure that one more committee isn’t going to turn the whole thing around. Call it art or politics or a party if you want, but the day’s gonna be all three. Think about the school you want, then get some friends and make it happen. Or find some of us. Get ready and stay tuned terps, it’s about to get exciting.

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