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Where the Personal becomes the Political at our whim...
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:: Sunday, April 06, 2003 ::

Too Late For April Fool's Day This afternoon when I finally got around to getting in touch with the real world, I saw a post over at Instapundit that caught my attention. I told Spooky about it on our way out to dinner. She thought it was an April Fool's Day joke. When I mentioned it was from the NYTimes, she laughed and pointed out that there's not always much of a difference.
AMHERST, Mass., April 4 - It is not easy being an old lefty on campus in this war.
Here at Amherst College, many students were vocally annoyed this semester when 40 professors paraded into the dining hall with antiwar signs. One student confronted a protesting professor and shoved him.
Some students here accuse professors of behaving inappropriately, of not knowing their place.
"It seems the professors are more vehement than the students," Jack Morgan, a sophomore, said. "There comes a point when you wonder are you fostering a discussion or are you promoting an opinion you want students to embrace or even parrot?"
Coming from the point of view of a student at a mostly residential liberal arts college, much like Amherst, I don't think I'd be the only one put off by my professors marching into my dorm to protest. There are public spaces on the campus for it. Hell, most have no issue with using their classroom as their personal soapbox. I obviously wasn't there for this protest, but I would venture to say that more students were put off by the invasion of personal space by their professors. I don't go marching with pro-gun signs through the dining rooms of their homes.
Across the country, the war is disclosing role reversals, between professors shaped by Vietnam protests and a more conservative student body traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Prowar groups have sprung up at Brandeis and Yale and on other campuses. One group at Columbia, where last week an antiwar professor rhetorically called for "a million Mogadishus," is campaigning for the return of R.O.T.C. to Morningside Heights.
Let's see if I understand this correctly. It's "not easy being an old lefty on campus" because students that don’t lean the same way as you politically decided to start clubs. I also think it is interesting that they flat out say the student body is more conservative because a few conservatives got active on a few campuses. I can vouch for conservative student groups, there aren't many that are large here in New England.
Even in antiwar bastions like Cambridge, Berkeley and Madison, the protests have been more town than gown. At Berkeley, where Vietnam protesters shouted, "Shut it down!" under clouds of tear gas, Sproul Plaza these days features mostly solo operators who hand out black armbands. The shutdown was in San Francisco, and the crowd was grayer.
All this dismays many professors.
People aren't doing exactly what we want them to. They might even disagree with us. Oh, the humanity! I never imagined telling one of my professors to get over himself to his face, but if one were to say something like this then it would probably be said with more colorful language than I typically use here.
"We used to like to offend people," Martha Saxton, a professor of women's studies at Amherst, said as she discussed the faculty protest with students this week. "We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?"
Why don't you students like to get yourselves arrested? Why don't you like to risk your personal safety in an unruly mob? What I find more amusing is the fact that it's implied in her comments that it's okay to offend conservatives. People like her made it against the rules for me to offend liberals (her). I would face punishment that could include being kicked out of school for offending her. Don't think I'm lying, there's a history on my campus of bringing up students on charges of “threatening the community dialogue” for being openly conservative. It may be a million times better now, but this was within the last decade.
Certainly not all students are pro-war or all faculty anti. But "there's a much higher percentage of liberal professors than there are liberal students," said Ben Falby, the student who organized the protest at Amherst only to find that it had more professors than students.
"It's a lonely place to be an antiwar protester on the Amherst campus," said Beatriz Wallace, a junior. In the dining hall, students have set out baskets of ribbons, some yellow, some red, white and blue.
Call the President. It's a national emergency. Hell has frozen over. How dare the student body have the audacity to hold their own opinions? I tell you, kids these days are just getting out of hand with their crazy independent thinking.
Prowar students say they feel just as alienated. "The faculty, and events, has a chilling effect on discussions for the prowar side," said David Chen, a sophomore.
Let's go back to that comment I made earlier about professors using their classrooms as their personal soapboxes. Let's reference Spooky's post from the other day about the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Yale, anti-our college, anti-woman professor that handed her midterm back with grades in pencil with the warning that the students better behave because pencil marks can be erased. I can't imagine why pro-war students would feel uncomfortable.
Still, he (Amherst Prof. Austin Sarat) and others expressed wistfulness for days gone by.
"In Madison, teach-ins were as common as bratwurst," he said. "There was a certain nobility in being gassed. Now you don't get gassed. You walk into a dining hall and hand out an informational pamphlet."
A nobility in being gassed? Good lord, what drugs were they taking back then? What happened to rational and respectful debate? Am I crazy for looking for an intelligent discussion by reasonable people on an issue? I must be very out of touch with society for thinking such crazy thoughts.

:: Bitter 12:29 AM [+] ::
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