Archive for February, 2009

Report on the Uprise

Friday, February 27th, 2009

The Uprise at Five was a great first step. We gathered at least 500 students in front of Russell Sage Dining Hall. We listened to protestful songs and speeches by student senators and similar animate objects. We yelled “RPI” and other school-spirited things when the Trustees arrived.

There are many pictures and videos out there; I’ll put together a list of links in a few days. For now, there’s some pictures here, and the Facebook group has a lot more, I’m told. If you look closely at some of them, you may notice Arthur Galpin, sighted for perhaps the first time since the Teach-In last year. You may also notice me carrying the “Save Our School” sign.

But most of you have probably been to the Uprise or heard a lot about it already. I want to report on something that happened shortly afterward. Most of the protestors left around 6 when the Trustees went inside. I hung around with the guys carrying the “In Dr. Jackson I Trust” sign. I still can’t tell if they were real counter-protestors or the best straight-faced sarcasm actors I’ve ever met. They don’t seem to have been under the influence of any mind-altering substances, though I have little experience with such things.

Eventually the Trustees came back out, and seemed amused to find us still there. One called out in response to my sign that saving the school was what they were doing. Dr. Jackson agreed, saying that two of them had donated a large amount of money to Renaissance at Rensselaer. I find it interesting that while I meant saving the school from destruction of community, good will, and reputation, her immediate idea was raising money. She then laughed at the counter-protestors and stopped to talk. They loaded the Trustees on the shuttle, but Dr. Jackson, Dr. Knowles, and the Provost stayed a moment to take some pictures with the other guys and their signs.

I want to point out a few things. By this time, the only people left were two counter-protestors, two people who hadn’t been to the protest and wanted to find out what was going on, and me. Other than Dr. Knowles dropping by as things were being taken down, this was the only actual contact between the sides. I was the only protestor who got a chance to talk to Dr. Jackson, and I failed miserably and didn’t say much. It would have been nice to have had some help.

This Uprise is only a beginning. So far, we have gotten no genuine response. We’re going to have to do a lot more if we want to see some progress. On the other hand, the administration is going to have to do a lot to dispel its image of being a Great Big Random Number Generator in the Sky. We’re going to have to follow up and be consistent; I think there’s a sense in which they see us as a Great Big Random Number Generator in the Dirt. They try to ban alcohol, and we nearly riot, and someone throws an axe through a Troy Building window. They remove the student representative to the Board of Trustees, and no one notices. They require sophomores to live on campus, and there’s a little unhappiness. They lay off eighty staff members, and we plaster campus with posters and start a petition. They take away hall squatting, and we don’t do anything. They reduce RA compensation, and suddenly we rally 500 students to shout at the Trustees. If we want to accomplish anything, we need to stick to it and prove we’re serious this time.

Finally, if you want to do something, go get yourself a pole and some paper and cardboard, make a sign that says “Save Our School” or “Listen To Students”, and carry it around with you. I’ve gotten encouragement from a professor and three staff workers, one of whom could have been risking his job. I’ve gotten the chance to tell what’s happening to five people, four of them complete strangers who I wouldn’t have had the chance to explain things to otherwise. All in just twelve hours.

Go do something useful. Save our ‘Tute.

Uprise at 5!

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The hour has come.

Its arrival is a complicated situation. You may have heard that compensation for RA’s has been decreased. It seems that it was also decided not to hire rising freshmen. Unfortunately, no one remembered to tell ResLife until the hiring process was nearly complete. Many RA’s are quite upset, and the Student Senate finally got upset too. They finally got sick of the opacity and deception and decided to do something.

This afternoon at 5, a large group of students will rally in front of Russell Sage Dining Hall. We will be attempting to present our concerns to the Board of Trustees.

This may very well be the most important thing that has happened at RPI in ten years. Be there. Save our school.

More details will follow if no one kills me.