When I first spot the flyer in the Cramer Hall stairwell, I chuckle to myself. “Student Walkout! Occupy PSU,” it cries in all its crudely photocopied glory. I remember when my class learned about walk-outs, sit-ins, and other forms of civil disobedience in high school American history. ‘Why had we never thought of this?’ we all wondered. Finally, a tried and true redress to all of our adolescent grievances! We promptly planned a walkout, complete with photocopied flyers. We never could explain exactly what it was that we were protesting and we gave up after about 20 minutes. I was disillusioned with the effectiveness of peaceful protest. How could we ever really stand up for ourselves if we couldn’t even agree on what it was that we were upset about?
I step closer to read the small print. I’m pleasantly surprised; this is actually quite eloquently worded and specific. “Bail out students not banks. Equitable pay for faculty and staff. Bring back public funding. Make tuition affordable. Remove barriers for minorities and immigrants.” I can get behind these goals. As a post-baccalaureate student, the only financial aid I am eligible for is loans, and those are barely enough to cover my tuition, especially after the 13 percent increase. I worry almost constantly about how I will afford to finish the undergraduate requirements for entry into the geology Master’s program.
Ok, so this isn’t an adolescent response to some imagined injustice, this is legitimate. I wonder what this will look like. Will people really leave their classrooms to participate? Will the park blocks be choked with angry PSU students? Will any staff or faculty join in? How will the University respond? How will the police respond? Will I skip class to attend? Hmm, I’m not sure about that. I’m paying an awful lot in tuition to skip class, even for a cause that I believe in. Whatever I decide to do, I am excited to see what unfolds on the 16th.
Do you plan to participate in the walk-out?