Columbia College Chicago students have a notoriously bad rep as a bunch of lazy, pretentious, self-involved art students. And it’s not like they have done much to eschew those labels- until now.
It may come with the fall’s rise and crackdown against the Occupy movement (specifically Occupy Chicago, which was shut down mere just a block away from Columbia’s main building) that got the students riled up and wanting to make their voices heard. Or it could have been the Prioritization measures proposed, the news brought to them via the Columbia Chronicle, which talked about the closed door, invitation only meetings after the fact, and riding on the coattails of the tuition increase. It may have been the seemingly broken promise of an increase in scholarship opportunities, or maybe it’s simply that they care more now.
Specifically, in the Fiction Department at Columbia, Randy Albers’ contract as the Chair of the department was not renewed, the news broken to faculty last Friday night through e-mail, and given to the students through articles and rumors. While all of the facts remain shrouded in mystery (as has been the case with all of the prioritization measures) one thing is clear: the students are not going to sit back and watch.
Monday, petitions started circulating the college. Tuesday a website called Albers for Chair popped up with yet another petition. Students are planning a walk-out and occupy style delivery of said petition, and everyone is talking.
In a circulating Essay by a writer going under the pseudonym ‘John Steele,’ the author points out the 8% cuts to “instruction” spending, the 60% cuts to “public service” spending and a similar cut to “research.” In the same vein, “fundraising” has seen a 15% increase, along side “academic support” (a PR savvy way of classifying administrative functions, “chiefly… the office of the Provost and the Department of Academic Affairs.”) and the 19% increase there. These figures represent the rise or fall of percentage of total spending since 2002.
Some have called for cool heads, time to reflect and think about what comes next. They propose that it is necessary for the facts to all come to light before moving forward with any sort of dissent. They say that it is time to remain calm.
But it is not.
It is time to get angry. It is time to get mad and raise your voice and froth at the mouth. It’s time to see that the Carter administration hasn’t been working for its students’ education, but instead for a blurred line of profits and departmental engineering. It’s time to tell President Carter that the students demand to be heard, addressed, and told the truth openly and clearly about what is happening with their college.
A college wide walk-out has been planned for March 1st led by the folks at Occupy Columbia College. This is a wonderful first step, but it is just that, a first step.
It’s time to write letters, to protest, to sit in, to walk out, to raise your voice and raise hell. It is only by standing together, united, that we can begin to work against the system of education that forces students to simply go along with whatever games that the administration wishes to play.
A great chant from the occupy movement sums up the spirit of fighting against Prioritization on all levels:
“They say cut back, we say fight back!”