Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coat Check [chat]

Heart Coat Check Girl.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

IU Strike: Complaining without Solutions

Students and Staff at IU Bloomington have planned a strike for April 11th and 12th.  This has received some attention from The Nation, and the strike, itself, has a tumblr page.  Because how are you supposed to fight the man without a tumblr page?  Combing through the tumblr one can find a plethora of grievances mixed with hopeful idealism.  As one image on the site articulates:

"The goal is to contest the administration's efforts to make IU a more exclusive, costly institution, at the expense of students and staff. We have already forced the administration to acknowledge these issues, but through collective action, we want to push further so that we can imagine together a different future for IU."

The goal of the strike is to contest, to push, to imagine.  As the demands page says, the goal is, "to foster discussion and encourage action".  There be discontent, and this discontent needs to be articulated.  What is curious, however, are some terms that are absent from the site:

- Solution
- Proposal
- Answer

They're as mad as hell.  They aren't going to take it anymore.  But fuck if they know how to get where they want to be, how they can solve the problem.  This is troubling.

For one thing, their lack of forethought, planning, and basic economic skills results in untenable demands.  Let's look at their six preliminary demands:

1)  Immediately reduce tuition and eliminate fees.
2)  Stop Privatization and outsourcing at IU.
3)  End the wage freeze.
4)  The university must honor its promise to double the enrollment of African-American students to 8%.
5)  Abolish both HB1402 and SB590.
6)  No retaliation for participating in or organizing the strike.

Notice 1 and 3?  1 requires that the University decrease the amount of money it take in.  3 requires that the University increase staff / faculty salaries, and so push more money out.  So, our helpful protesters have demanded that IU collect less money, but dole out larger checks.  My guess is that no math / econ students, or faculty, participated in the construction of that list.

Let's be clear:  Each particular demand, itself, is not troubling or problematic.  Having a strike or demonstration is fine and dandy.  Communicating unrest and voicing opposition to trends?  Go for it.  But there is a difference between criticism and constructive criticism.  Criticism is people yelling and dancing around wearing Guy Fawkes masks.  Constructive criticism is people articulating their grievances, and offering some fucking solutions to the god damned problem.  It's taking the step beyond mere vocalization of unrest, and striving for resolution.

This is the general problem with contemporary civil unrest, with campus strikes and the Occupy Wall Street movement.  They're great at complaining and not showering.  But when it comes time to sit down and articulate a practical solution nothing happens.  The people in the drum circle can imagine a better world, can articulate their imagined possible reality, but have no fucking clue how to get from where we are, to what they want to be.

It seems like that would be a critical step:  A woman in the drum circle stands up and says, "And here is my Excel document with cost breakdowns for how we can transition from the current economic paradigm to a more palatable system."  But that won't happen, because instead of learning economic theory and the inter-workings of University bureaucracy the fucker was busy learning to play a djembe.

My guess is that their website has not exhausted its server space.  So, if they had solutions they could have made a "How to solve the problem" page.  But they didn't make the page, so they probably don't have the solutions.

It's just like Hugh Laurie sang:

Here's my constructive criticism for the folks at IU:  Add some fucking solutions to your tumblr page, and have an idea of how to enact your economic demands.

Because you need more to offer than, "All we gotta do is.....(harmonica)"