My thoughts on the F-Board Protest

There’s been a lot of discussion about the merits and purpose of the protest, both on and off-line. Here’s how I feel:

Regarding what Loki said here:

First of all, the event was only organized with the consent and oversight of the Administration itself, the very institution whose policies we were supposedly acting out against. What does this say about the commitment to student independence we were supposedly trying to defend?

It’s perfectly legitimate to work within the establishment to effect change. In fact, many times, it’s necessary. And if the school gave us the tools to fulfill our goals (a student union, money, etc) then of course we should take advane of them.

Let’s put it this way. The administration is in a bind. What are they going to do, revoke these deep-rooted privileges (and the ability to buy donuts is a privilege) and rights of student protest, assembly, etc? That would make them look even worse. So the only way to let them off the hook would be to not use those rights and privileges.

I’ve written much more “below the fold” (click on the “read the rest…” link).

As to the validity of the protests. I tend to agree with those who say that with all the problems with the Administration’s actions, protesting this, of all things, seems rather silly on it’s face. And the proposal to take Student Event’s funding may very well be correct on the merits.

That’s not the point. The protest was a general protest regarding the administrations autocratic actions over the last semester: the Student Senate considerately invited SODA to show up as a partner and conduct their own activities during the protest with their own flyers, messaging, etc. So I fully supported SODA’s role in the protest, and by extension the protest itself.

That’s not the point, either.

Here’s the deal. Even taking all some people have said and assuming that those assertions are true, the essence of what happened is as follows (again, assuming that the assumptions of a dodgy F-board, etc are correct, which I’m not going to comment on):

Student Events, Jean Eddy, etc. had a worthy proposal for streamlining the Student Events financing.

The administration agreed and committed itself to the change.

The Student Union got wind of this, and unanimously voted not to accept this change. While I have my disagreements with some Student Union Senate positions, and some Student Union Senators, as a whole, the Student Union Senate is a Democratically elected body representing the students. Thus, when the university administration made the move anyway, it was an illegal and anti-democratic decision .And while civil disobedience and so forth are great, the university administration is the establishment.

And while I may sometimes rail against the Student Senate, I fully respect it’s rights, because it represents me and my rights. If I don’t like the way the Student Senate acts, I do the same things I do when the Massachusetts Legislature or the United States Congress misbehave. I write letters, I petition, I get my position across, and I try to launch primary challenges or cross-party challenges to badly-behaving legislators. That’s expected in a liberal democracy.

What the University administration is doing is something else quite entirely.

No matter how worthy Student Event’s goals, no matter now wrong the Student Union might be, by disregarding the will of the Student Body (as expressed by it’s duly-elected representatives) the University is disregarding the will of the people, and eroding Student Autonomy.

That’s the point. Forget the merits of shuffling Student Events Funds or the supposed cronyism of F-board. This episode illustrates the fundamental disregard for student opinions on this campus. The protest wasn’t really about Student Events or even guns on campus. The protest was an attempt for the students to check the administration and say “Hey. We’re here, we matter, and you have to listen to us.”


2 thoughts on “My thoughts on the F-Board Protest”

  1. Alex, that’s really interesting. I’d like to hear more about what’s going on with you guys regarding that stuff, and I’m glad you agree that it’s wrong.

    And yeah, it’s a full 1%.

  2. A similar thing with regard to Graduate Student Activities funds happened this year too, if I understand the undergrad funds issue correcty: at the beginning of the school year (before I was back involved with the Graduate Student Association) the activies fees allocated to the GSA Exec Committee were the same level as the previous year and the remainder was redirected to support the new Graduate Student Center. While this would likely have been approved formally if the previous EC and Senate had been asked or the incoming group. There has been a lot of loose implementation of the Constitution earlier in this year, and the undergraduate dispute has been since the last meeting, but I am sure I will make sure this kind of thing is dealt with in our Constitution Reform Committee we are starting January.

    The scale of funds is lower for us (our activity fee is 0.01% of tuition, whereas the undergrad is 1% or 0.1% right?) so there is less direct “burden” to the average student, but it’s important to have a consistent procedure. I’m very glad the undergrad student orgs are standing up for this, and be assured the graduate students will be also, albeit it slower.

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