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February 20, 2009






Robert Kelly

$50k a year...!? That's ridiculous.

Now, I want to voice a criticism of the protest (now several days past failure). The activists have their heart right place, but they did not seem to hold to a coherent message. Their first demand (available here: http://takebacknyu.com/take-back-nyu-has-taken-back-nyu/), amnesty for all parties, goes against one of the core principles of civil disobedience--willingness to accept the penalty. Whether sit-ins are a form of civil disobedience is debatable, but they also went against their abstention from property destruction by breaking a window so some of the activists could smoke.

It's this hodgepodge of demands and inconsistency in action, a refusal to accept the consequences, and a lack of real background as to whether the activists sought to have their issues redressed through the proper channels that gives me the sense that this was an amateur attempt. Surely the university WOULD NOT have listened to them in the first place, but I have no indication of knowing that the activists ever tried.

Much of the failure had to do with the fact that the students were taking part in what you said: a borderline criminal institution. If the activists had said--look, we're sick of these bandit-academics exploiting us, so do what we say and if not, then it will cost you, because we're not going anywhere, and we're prepared to kiss this sinkhole goodbye--then I would have been impressed by their conviction. Right now it looks like another group of students who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, as long as it doesn't damage their future earnings (which is arguably pointless at such an expensive school) and reputation among the elite. It's radical chic. Student activists should learn from their mistakes.

I don't use my profile to link to my blog, so I'll provide a link here for anyone who might be interested: http://deliverators.typepad.com

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