Vegas: the epitome of capitalist and consumerist America and the land of dreams — yet no one seems to sleep. While some return from the desert metropolis reminiscing about the best weekend of their lives, others leave completely bankrupt, both financially and morally.
To be blunt, I hate Triton Activity Planner forms. A TAP, if you’ve never filled one out, is this horrible form you have to file for practically every event on campus. TAPs are even required for “potlucks attended by more than 25 people.” Apparently raging, overcrowded potlucks were a big problem at UCSD, but thankfully we have TAPs to keep potluckgoers safe from themselves.
Alert: Chancellors all across the UC system are rampantly soaking in outrageous salaries, causing students severe turmoil. Well, not quite.
It’s happened, folks. The administration is making yet another decision that will affect student life — and, more importantly, student pocketbooks — but this time, they’re waiting on your input.
Now that Transportation and Parking Services Director Brian d’Autremont has A.S. Council to blame for the failure of last year’s Transportation Referendum — which would have made every student shell out $25 this year to float our sinking shuttles — and a thumbs-up from the Transportation Policy Committee on the parking permit fee increases, he has no conceivable reason to dilly dally. Why wait when you can dig yourself out of debt today? Yet, he has postponed the increase for an entire summer, ostensibly so that he can hear from the students.
This is our chance.
Administration and A.S. Council alike make a lot of noise about approaching students for their input, but rarely has there been any evidence to suggest that they’re acting on it. The fact that the TPC is twiddling its thumbs while waiting for students to get to campus offers the tenuous hope that maybe, this time, it’s for real.
Don’t play with our heart, TPC — you know we’ve been hurt before.
Of course, students have a notorious track record of doing absolutely nothing, even when the decision in question makes a drastic impact on their lives. Or, worse, a cause picks up a number of ardent supporters, who then quietly drop the ball when it comes to the follow-through (Cancer Cluster protesters of rallies past, we’re looking at you).
For anyone who was paying any kind of attention to last year’s protests — even those who limited themselves to vaguely disgruntled glances when forced to reroute their habitual walk to Center Hall — we’re going to run a line by you to see if it rings any bells:
“I see hurt. I see disempowerment. I see anger. Things border on hate speech and hate crime, and we are the voices of resistance.”
Sound familiar? It should — if you were a student here five years ago, when the chair of the Student Affirmative Action Committee said the above at a 2005 rally protesting against an oppressive campus climate and, shocker, the Koala. If you’re not rocking your 18th quarter as a sixth-year senior, however, that rhetoric probably sounded brand-new when shouted across the quad in reaction to last year’s Compton Cookout and subsequent brouhaha.
The determining factor in whether last spring’s show of strength and solidarity actually carries over into a reality this year — or follows its predecessor’s footsteps into the dusty pages of undisturbed archive rooms — is if students can remember to pay attention after the fact.
Too often does an issue get sidelined by finals or a quarter break, also known as a student-interest death knell. Library Walk was whipped into an epic frenzy by the events surrounding the Compton Cookout, but the second those organic chemistry finals reared their ugly heads, the campus fell eerily silent. Protesters retreated to their textbooks, bystanders once again.
The fact that students are so easily distracted allows things like last May’s increase in mandatory dining dollars to slip under the radar. On-campus students this are now, on average, forking out an extra $87 a year for their meal plans, and only a handful of college council members can tell you why.
Though the dining dollar increase is over and done with, many of the other issues that came into the public consciousness at the tail end of last year will no doubt continue their saga into 2011.
The death of the Transportation Referendum is coming back to haunt us in the form of higher costs for parking permits and weekend parking fees, unless A.S. Council and Parking and Transportation Services agree to head to couples’ therapy and give their unlikely marriage another shot. The Israel-Palestinian argument (culminating in the “UCSD Divestment for Peace” bill) takes place like clockwork each spring, when Tritons for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine each put their respective funding to use in broadcasting their unapologetic — and conflicting — messages.
The Kumeyaay remains have yet to be repatriated, and even though the Grove has gone the way of the dodo, you can bet your finest fair-trade coffee that the co-operatives are going to make some noise over their rent re-negotiation this year.
Most controversially, the Black Student Union’s list of 32 demands — which include more faculty of color, an increase in S.P.A.C.E.S. funding, and almost Biblical levels of outreach — will either fizzle or flourish, depending on whether students remember to hold the administration to last year’s promises. And let’s not forget that media funding might also get a second chance in the limelight, as the Koala is honor-bound to do something degenerate at first opportunity.
The danger lies in letting these issues slide in favor of the immediate crisis of an anthropology paper. The classic problem of any university is the lack of institutional memory; with all of us gone in a quick four years, anything that happened before might as well not have existed.
D’Autremont is handing out the first opportunity of Fall Quarter to break the cycle. Instead of following the silent footsteps of last year (and the year before...and the year before that), students need to take the time to make their voices heard on issues that affect them in the day-to-day. Let the man know that you value your Arriba shuttle stop, your free weekend parking, or the extra $25 in your wallet that you intend to blow on a new pair of shoes.
Sending one e-mail isn’t much, but it’s a start; paying attention to a cause where the administration seems willing to actually listen to students can open the door to all kinds of future communication. More importantly, it could be the start of people remembering to keep their eyes on the developments taking place around them, instead of starting each Fall Quarter from scratch.