In the spirit of Langston Hughes and for the spirits of our incredible students and the working classes across the globe, I resolve not to be a “coward of the college.” I resolve to use all personal and institutional means to stand-up for our students, faculty and staff. This will include being a better teacher, mentor, advisor and colleague as well as being active in and pushing our various committees, departments, union, faculty senate, and working groups to be the best that we can possibly be. I resolve to not sit by while the disingenuous, cynical, and short-sighted corporate mentality turns our university into free job training for the corporations that ruin our planet and deprive people of safe, secure and meaningful lives.
Please join me in resolving to not be a coward of the college. For insight into what that might mean read Hughes’ essay, “Cowards of the Colleges.” I have a copy in pdf form, if any are interested. Below are a few of my favorite quotes from the essay.
"And can it be that our Negro institutions are not really interested in turning out leaders at all? Can it be that they are far more interested in their endowments and their income and their salaries than in our students?
And can it be that these endowments, incomes, gifts—and therefore salaries---springing from missionary and philanthropic sources and not from big Northern boards and foundations---have such strings tied to them that those accepting them can do little else (if they wish to live easy) but bow down to the white powers that control this philanthropy and continue, to the best of their ability, to turn out ‘Uncle Toms’?...”
“The day must come when we will not say that a college is a great college because it has a few beautiful buildings, and a half dozen PhD’s on a faculty that is afraid to open its mouth…”
“…unless we develop more and ever more such young men and women on our campuses [e.g., I.S.U. members] as an antidote to the docile dignity of the meek professors and well-paid presidents who now run our institutions, American Negroes in the future had best look to the unlettered for their leaders, and expect only cowards from the colleges.” (Langston Hughes, “Cowards from the Colleges: An Essay”, 1934)