Why students should care
On Friday, the board of trustees at Santa Monica College reversed its progress on a controversial plan to offer its most popular courses at a higher price than its less popular classes. In-demand classes were scheduled to cost approximately $180 per credit unit, while normal classes only cost $46.
After days of student protests, in which demonstrators were pepper-sprayed (the videos of which were posted online) the board of trustees caved, and agreed to halt the proposal for the time being.
Arguments about whether or not this was a good idea aside, the demonstration shows just how powerful the student body at an institution can be if it works together.
The kind of spirit that the students at Santa Monica College demonstrated is the type Wash. U. students need to have in order to make sure that our needs are being met.
At Wash. U., students don’t really have all the power that we should. Now, I love Wash. U. I love the people, the classes, the professors, the atmosphere, the fake Gothic-style architecture. We have so much here to be thankful for that it seems impossible to be angry or upset at the administration, especially when it has given us so much.
Yet, I do not see anything but student apathy when a decision is made without our consent or input. Whether it’s the inexorable rise of tuition, or cigarettes being banned on campus, the student input on these issues is remarkably low. Many times, school policy decisions are forced down our throats without any sort of interaction with us, the student body.
Why is this the case? The protests at Santa Monica College were ultimately about the lack of student involvement in the decision, less so about the decision itself. The demonstrators were angered because they weren’t able to weigh in a decision that would ultimately affect them more than it would the administrators making the choice to offer a two-tiered education.
Why can’t Wash. U. be the same? I’m not saying that we should protest every little thing, but shouldn’t we show the school that we need to be involved in the decision-making process more? I think we have every right to demand a little more input, to demand a little bit more choice and flexibility when big decisions are being made.
If we are adults, soon-to-be (donating) alumni, I think that being more involved in big decisions is something that we should demand. We need to follow in the footsteps of the students at Santa Monica College. When they were faced with a situation in which their voices weren’t being heard, they went out and fought for it, in an effort to make their chosen institution a better place.
We can do the same. We should do the same. The student body is more affected by the University’s decisions than any other group. I think we have the capability to weigh in on, and add to, any discussion that the University is having about any sort of policy change, and we should fight for that in any way possible.