Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

Archive for August 2010

Aggressive Apathy vs. Naïve Radicalism

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Today we’re going to talk about students…that’s right, students. I want to compare some of the extreme, yet vocal, elements of students at university to those that represent the norm in community colleges. In college the kids there want to get in and get out – know what they need to know, get their diploma and work. In university the young scholars seem up to their necks in any issue that falls in their lap. Both are ignorant in their own particular ways.

College students could care less if the school was swindling them. At Mohawk College in Hamilton there were obvious hustles used on students to snatch from their already meager purses. For example, anyone enrolled at the school was charged for a locker on campus – even though there are 6,000plus students to lockers. And the administration is so authoritarian you’d think the Dark Lord of the Sith Dick Cheney himself was in charge of that dog and pony show. A professor at the collage was actually gagged and eventually fired for criticizing the school over a triviality. However those attending the institution aggressively ignored any attempts by the student newspaper to showcase the evident abuse of power. The student’s focus is ONLY on their diploma and what doors that piece of paper promises to open.

In university it seems few are as concerned with entering the workplace and are instead wide-eyed at any vague injustices and inequalities that may occur on campus. At Carleton University I’ve noticed protests so meaningless and vain that I can only conclude those involved would start a rally in their family kitchen if their hand got slapped going into the cookie jar. In Ottawa there was a surprisingly great uproar against the compulsory fee for a discounted student bus pass. To be against this is equivalent to opposing paying taxes because you don’t use all public services. Furthermore every one of us submits to unfairness by paying for tuition, textbooks, gas, cable, phone bills etc. It is naïve to protest against one unequal fee while willfully paying for another.

What the radical vocal component of university campuses doesn’t understand is that once we graduate we’ll then need to find a job and sell our labour/intellect. And in that situation we are consequently slaves to those who pay us. That doesn’t mean you can’t fight for certain rights but it does mean there are many inconveniences and inequalities that are inevitably outside our control. The apathy that so many college students have is unfortunate because they could practice at least some resistance in order to halt the rather obvious injustices imposed on them and others.

What interests me about the divergent views of those that go to university compared to college students is the stereotypical nature of each group’s characteristics. It is so utterly cliché when a young social science student straps a protest sign to a piece of wood when a higher authority exercises that authority. On the other hand college students are behaving just as blindly conventional when they regard training for the workplace as the workplace itself. It as if those studying for a diploma have already accepted that they are only paltry workers who are there to be taken advantage of and are incapable of doing anything beyond their assigned tasks.

Both attitudes are blatant polarities. And in my experience and true cynical temperament I have a hard time settling on either side of the fence. On the one side I don’t believe we should give up and sit on our hands just simply because injustice cannot always be prevented. However, I also think that if we are to object to every instance of unfairness we would be downright exhausted and unable to function in this society. The rational path would somewhere down the middle where one does not allow others to walk all over them but realizes that getting their toes stepped on every once in awhile is an unavoidable certainty