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Tapping the Power of Youth

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Youth and students are lowering their sights, narrowing their vision, fearing the divisiveness of struggle necessary for change, and choosing to close up shop because Bush will be out in January 2009 and that’s only months away. They are updating their Facebooks, tuning the world out with iPods, and watching disillusioning shows commonly referred to as “reality TV.” They’re letting Obama dictate the terms for change and allowing him to control the agenda, an agenda determine by whether it will divide or alienate people regardless of how important it might be to make a moral argument to the general public. Operating with a mentality like this is detrimental to the future of society which needs pioneers who will reshape the world.

Student repression is becoming more and more prevalent. As a side effect of the Bush Regime we have lived under, privatization and authoritarianism are propelling administrators and managers of education to oppose anti-government or anti-establishment thinking that students exhibit on campus. Students are expected to not challenge policies that are blatantly improper, illegitimate, and invalid.

At Columbia College Chicago, a student has been banned by the administration from entering the hub of student organizing on campus and told that if he is caught “waving paper” around he will be in danger of not graduating. He was also told that he was not allowed to organize or attend May Day and so he was absent from the march and rally held in Chicago.

This turn of events, which involves the denial of due process, is a result of his attempt to unionize the student body on campus last summer. Since then, he has led the opposition to a security contracting company on campus that busted up a union, informed students of the fact that the FBI asked an Iranian professor for the names of all “anti-government” students, circulated a Student Bill of Rights, and published a political cartoon in the school newspaper that “offended” somebody. His actions have been met with unwarranted trepidation.

Several other examples exist across the nation: Students for a Democratic Society group banned from Evergreen, Morton West students threatened with expulsion for convening a peaceful protest, and Antioch College shut down.

In addition to this repression, student government associations and student organizations/alliances are filling in the void created by authoritarianism with inherently ignorant events and actions.

At DePaul University, a conservative alliance of students has held the following: an affirmative action bake sale where baked goods were sold to minorities at a lower price, a campaign to get concealed weapons on campus so students can “properly” respond to shootings like the ones that have occurred at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, a Take Back the Kitchen event (response to a Take Back the Night event dealing with the rape of women) illuminating the idea that the woman’s place is in the kitchen. The alliance has also put a sombrero on somebody and chased them around as if that person was an illegal immigrant.

Students must take not of how farcical and nauseating it is for campuses to grant freedom to such actions while suppressing much needed actions. They must raise their sights, widen their vision, and become people who challenge what is acceptable and unacceptable.

One way this can be done is by putting together a coalition of students on campus that will mobilize around repudiating the Bush Regime and the systemic corporatism, fascism, and oppression that has leaked into educational institutions across this nation that includes but is not limited to a World Can’t Wait chapter on campus. A calendar of events should be set up to make it impossible for the college community to ignore the need for resistance and opposition. Fundraisers, forums, concerts, movie screenings, book discussions, focus groups, and demonstrations specifically targeting cracks in the Bush Regime façade which must be blown wide open could be part of the calendar of events.

In order for a much needed organization and consolidation of student activism to take place, students must look within themselves and find their heart and soul first though if they wish to achieve success. They must liberate themselves from the kind of dead end thinking that is hindering change and reorganization of the structures in America. Let’s not kid ourselves. Reform will begin when we reform our mentalities and lifestyle.

For some this will mean they will have to go out of their way to become dedicated, diligent hard-working individuals. It will mean recognizing the side effects experienced under a No Child Left Behind Act that placed more emphasis on memorization of trivia instead of learning how to think and approach concepts rationally. It will mean developing ways to not just be a wage slave to a corporation for money needed to get by. Finding ways to sustain life by working to challenge and reshape society is what students should do instead of taking the easy way out.

Students often make the claim that they have no time for meetings, forums, and demonstrations because they have work to do for class. As an art student, I have gone to great lengths to not make that excuse by making the work I do for school somehow be a part of my quest to redefine society.

For my documentary class, I chose to cover an individual who was leading World Can’t Wait on my college campus and introduced me to the organization leading the fight to drive out the Bush Regime.

For a film production class, I pieced together a short film that dealt with the experiences of a protester.

I recognize that not all students attend arts colleges. That does not mean you cannot make the Bush Program the subject of your work.

Incorporating topics that should be at the forefront of all Americans’ minds especially the minds of my generation is one way to meet reality head on and challenge current policies. For Writing and Rhetoric II, an English class, I wrote a paper on the possibility of Americans “taking back America.” In 12th grade, I wrote a paper on how the U.S. needed to withdraw from Iraq.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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