“I wish they looked less at our tactics and more at the ideas behind them.”
(Student member of IU on Strike, personal communication, 2013)
|From IU on Strike's tumblr page: http://iuonstrike.tumblr.com/post/47678403790/more-photos-from-banner-making-today#notes|
Yesterday afternoon at the Indiana Memorial Union I met with one of the organizers of IU on Strike, a movement that grew out of Occupy IU and today is going “on strike” on Indiana University’s campus (Fater &Stefanski, 2013). You can find out more from them via their Twitter and Tumblr pages.
Student activism is an interesting topic within my chosen field of student affairs & higher education. There are those who lament the apathy of current college students. There are those who quietly scorn them, already disenchanted themselves on the efforts of a few to make effective change.
And then there are those like me, who embrace the Student Personnel Point of View (1949) perspective that believes one of the goals of higher education is “Education for a fuller realization of democracy in every phase of living” (p.2).
I’ve been observing the IU on Strike movement this year because of my own past experiences with student activism at Bowling Green State University and my work experience as a community organization with BUILD in Lexington, KY. To me, there is nothing more important than students becoming engaged in their community and working towards social justice and democracy.
I admit my experience with activism is much different than the IU on Strike students. As a student representative through the Undergraduate Student Government I worked with the system to make change – and then, when the system did not yield during a few situations, I worked outside of it, such as the time a group of good people and I fundraised nearly $7,000 to pay the salary of a victim advocate position in the BGSU Women’s Center. Over the years there was success, there was failure, and there were some things I wish I had done differently. Yet thanks to those experiences I am an engaged citizen, just like the SPPV (1949) desired :)
But regardless of my different experiences compared to IU on Strike, I want to understand. Because with a growing sense of horror (in a way), I realize that I am the Man. I work for the university. I work for the establishment. There are those who would not recognize me as a peer today that once may have.
My role is shifting.
And as it does, I cannot help but wonder about student activism and administrative responses. This is why I am working on a paper to explore the history of student activism and meeting with students from IU on Strike. I want to understand.
Student Affairs personnel need to come to an understanding as well regarding the needs and desires of our students in relation to their passions and activism. We need contemplate our role within the system and with our students.
“For me, the strike is a lot more about calling attention to these demands and letting the administration know we’re not OK with this...than a dialogue with the administration about how exactly they should go about doing these things,” IU on Strike representative Kelly Thomas said.”
Some food for thought:
- Student activists like IU on Strike state that their goal is to draw attention to the issues but not engage the administration because they do not trust the university administration or the police. Why is there a lack of distrust? How can we overcome that barrier and reach a mutual understanding? How can we work together? Is this possible?
- How do we support our students when they become engaged in activism?
- How to we approach and engage student activists, especially when we are in upper administration?
- As Xenia Markowitt asked, “Is It My Job to Teach the Revolution?” (2009). And what does that look like? How do we teach students how to advocate for themselves and issues that matter to them?
- Eric Stoller once commented on how there are not enough radical practitioners in student affairs. Is this true? And what role does this play into the conversation? (Stoller, 2012)
IU on Strike. Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/@iuonstrike
IU on Strike Tumblr. Retrieved from http://iuonstrike.tumblr.com/
Student Personnel Point of View (1949) Retrieved from http://www.naspa.org/pubs/files/StudAff_1949.pdf
Lare, J.C. (October 16, 2009). Is it my job to teach the revolution? Jenny c. lares. Retrieved from http://jennylares.com/?p=780 -- NOTE: If you do not have access to Markowitt's article on The Chronicle, you can read it for free via this blog.
Markowitt, X. (October 11, 2009). Is it my job to teach the revolution? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Is-It-My-Job-to-Teach-the-R/48725/
Stoller, E. (January 16, 2012). Where are all the radical practicioners? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/where-are-radical-practitioners
Fater T. & Stefanski M. (April 10, 2013). IU on Strike outlines demands. IDS. Retrieved from http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=92261