Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Should Be Proud

The main thing that happened at the BOT meeting was that students and faculty asserted themselves with a strong voice. I believe we may be changing the culture of CSU in a positive way. We may be putting an end to a mentality of doing as we are told which has dominated the campus since I have been here (22 years). When their decision to appoint Watson was greeted with a chorus of boos and angry shouts, I was proud of all of us.

I did disagree with Phillip's speech which restored order. I thought the disorder was positive and presented a teaching moment. If we continue to disrupt the BOT's "order," what can the BOT do in the face of united faculty, students, and even administrators? Have the campus cops eject us? It would have been interesting to see them try to do that. Or they might have been forced to call Chicago cops. That would have been excellent. It would have made a profound point about political power (I write this as a political philosopher and as a communist activist). In state-level class societies based on exploitation of the working classes, the rulers' power in the end rests on the power of police, on their ability to organize force. When, as happened at that meeting, they have no support from their "constituents," that is all they have going for them. So they must use the police. A very positive lesson that--when push comes to shove--this is what capitalist "democracy" really is!!

Finally, I did think it was important to call the BOT racist. Some have said to me that the word is inflammatory. I believe that the word is accurate. White students would almost certainly not be similarly disrespected nor would their school be treated as a patronage pit. The fact that the BOT members are also almost all identified as black is irrelevant. Their only hope is that we are fooled by racial identities to think they can't be racist because they are black. They are the racists, and we should say so. We should demand that our students and our school be treated with the same respect as others: there should be UPass; the bookstore should be open to students to get their texts; the financial aid should be organized to eliminate the long lines; the classrooms should be maintained.

We have begun to stand up and fight. Let us continue.


  1. Another interpretation of Phillip's act of diffusing the emotions of the crowd is that it was a poke in the eye of the BOT themselves and Rev Finney in particular. They could not restore order, he could.

  2. I like Corday's point, and it is entirely correct that probably only Phillip, because of his consistent leadership, had the influence to restore order. Yet, though I agree with that, I had hoped to explore my disagreement with Phillip and with many of my allies in this struggle: neither the governor nor the BOT nor the administration is our friend. They represent racist capitalism. They (particularly the first two)use our school in a racist way for their purposes. I believe we should draw clear lines between friends and enemies. If we had forced them to call the cops, a different lesson would have emerged, one that I believe it is more important to make.