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Stanislaus students finally speak out

POSTED November 20, 2009 9:37 p.m.
When I came into work on Thursday at the Turlock Journal, I was surprised to hear that there had been a protest at California State University, Stanislaus that morning. I had spent the last three hours in class at Stanislaus and I hadn’t heard a word about it. I took a look at photos and a cutline by Meagan Martens, and found that a group of about 30 students had organized a morning march to the president’s office. That’s pretty out of character for CSU Stanislaus.
I always thought college would be like the movies show it; full of student activists and flower children staging sit-ins and protests on campus. But this isn’t the 1960s, and CSU Stanislaus is about as far from that image as possible. Stan State students, as a group, are pretty apathetic.
“Your University president could walk up and punch you all in the face and you’d say ‘thank you,’” as one of my more out-spoken professors said in class one day.
Lately, however, students have decided to break the silence with their objections over fee increases and the loss of classes and Winter Term. On Sept. 30 a group of more than 300 students staged a day of mourning, their way of highlighting the impact of more than 144 canceled classes. And on Tuesday, a small group of students took to the president’s office in hopes of restoring Winter Term.
I can’t help but compare that small group of Stanislaus students to the University of California, Los Angeles protests that happened the same day. The UC Board of Regents met at UCLA on Thursday to vote on a 32 percent student fee increase. Students from UCLA and other UC campuses were not happy about the proposed increase, and they surrounded the Covel Commons, where the regents’ meeting was taking place.
Students took over a classroom and staged a sit-in. They sat behind vehicles and blocked parking garages in hopes that the regents would not be able to leave campus. They staged a “die-in” where students laid down side-by-side in a show of solidarity and protest.
Mostly, however, they made a lot of noise.
There are several videos on YouTube.com that show students yelling and shouting at the edge of a police barricade. One video shows a police officer using a Taser on a young man, apparently because he got too close to the barricade. Early reports said that as many as 14 students were arrested.
These protests, while peaceful for the most part, were down right wild compared to the actions of Stanislaus students. I can’t imagine students at Turkey Tech getting that riled up about anything. When students were e-mailed a poll about whether they wanted to keep Winter Term or not, only 12 percent of students responded. That is pretty typical of my fellow Warriors; only a small percentage of students vote in student elections every year. We’re not really a “politically active” student body.
I commend those students who did decide to voice an opinion on Tuesday. We apparently have little control over the decisions made regarding our educations, but we do have a voice.
I’m not suggesting that CSU Stanislaus students riot, or get themselves Tasered. But I support their right to peacefully assemble, and to let the university and the world know exactly where they draw the line.
CSU Stanislaus has a designated free speech area, where anyone can say anything at any time (with some exceptions made for amplified sound). The Rock, a large boulder in the quad near the library, is that designated spot. So stand on that rock — or next to it since it’s kind of pointy — and tell the world how you feel. Maybe if enough people make enough noise, someone will listen.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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