Protesting for students’ rights
The trend in the last three years has been unconformity. Around Europe, thousands of students took to the streets to protest governments’ implementations of new austerity measures. In the Middle East, we witnessed the youth rise against authoritarian governments, using social networks and new technologies to consolidate an Arab Spring that extended from Tunisia to Syria. In the United States, the 99 percent expressed their frustration at the 1 percent through a leaderless movement that began as an occupation of New York’s Wall Street and eventually made its way to other cities.
Protesting is a practice that seems ancient but has gained momentum once again. It’s time for more college students to embrace it.
Those who talked about a disengaged, passionless youth, about a lost generation absorbed by video games and the Internet, were proven wrong, with these recent examples. Nevertheless, there is a place that remains largely unmoved by this shift in world dynamics: the University of Southern California. There is a lot to be grateful for but there is still plenty to be pissed about.
According to U.S. News and World Report, USC has managed to position itself as the No. 24 nationally university in the nation and the administration is aiming to place USC in the top 10 list, up there with Harvard and Yale. President C. L. Max Nikias has even promised to turn the campus into a true college town through the Master Plan. Let’s applaud — USC is conducting a great public relations campaign.
However, since this new construction will not be ready until 2030, we will not be around to reap the benefits. In the meantime, current students must pay an exorbitant cost of attendance that can add up to $60,000 per year. We must deal with a shortage of housing that ultimately forces students to live in overpriced bedrooms in South Los Angeles while experiencing shootings outside and inside the campus — landlords must be laughing all the way to the bank.
We must settle for libraries that don’t have the capacity to hold the sudden flux of students during midterms and finals, and a bureaucracy that constantly misplaces and slowly reviews student transcripts, petitions, etc. I have shared these complaints with my fellow students but we only seem to b-tch about it or comply.
Campus politics will remain the same until we stop being a silent majority. Some might ask: why is protesting beneficial?
Protesting works because it brings attention to the cracks in the system. For the average American college student, protesting achieved desegregation in schools, furthered free speech and academic freedom in campuses across the country and pushed greater education funding — all things we take for granted today.
So if you have a problem, protest through a letter, a sit-in, by collecting signatures or by writing an article for the student paper. The mediums are endless and there is only one outcome: progress. Protesting is much more than whining or complaining — it materializes the hope that things can always be better than they are.
I urge you, potential student protester, to celebrate what is right and criticize what is wrong. Make your voice be heard, or at least make them pay attention to your parent’s paycheck. USC should be giving you back its money’s worth. Tell them to stop paying Lane Kiffin $4 million a year and maybe use some of that money to improve the things the average student needs. Make them give you everything they promised in their glossy designer brochures and cheerful campus tours.
After all, it is you who keeps the University of Southern California up and running.
Rafael Fernandez de Castro