Student activism on this campus is overblown. Sure, there”s a lot of sign-waving, rhetoric-chanting and fist-shaking, but these minor aberrations fade into the background faster than you can say “hell no.” Face it, all you burgeoning cause-hawkers: Your pretty signs, your bullhorns and your shouting aren”t cutting it anymore. Your methods are pass. And if you want my support, you”ll have to be a little more creative.
One fresh idea for campus activists to consider is setting themselves (not to be confused with anyone or anything else) on fire. Now this is a good way to get my attention. Fire is almost always cool, especially when it”s nearby and safely contained. And just think what it could do for the cause! (“Hey! Did you hear about that Students Against Syphilis guy who set himself on fire?”) I guarantee the student body would appreciate this kind of valor (“Dude! Check out the blisters on that guy!”). Finally, no one would get hurt except the noble activist himself.
You say you want a revolution? Prove it.
While setting fire to yourself is an excellent way to cast your cause into the spotlight, it only works once. After that, you”ve got to get off your extra-crispy ass and take some real action lest some other, more passionate masochist steal your thunder. Follow-through is key to overcoming Joe Public”s gnat-like attention span and it”s a difficult concept for many campus activists to grasp.
Take, for example, the small faction of militant conservatives pushing for the abolition of the Women”s Studies department. They talk big, asking tough questions like “What about Men”s Studies?” and making bold, poignant statements like, “Feminism worked, bee-yatch,” but I have yet to see them take action. What”re you waiting for, boys? I suggest you go out and purchase subscriptions to “Good Housekeeping” and “Family Circle” magazines for everyone in the Women”s Studies department. Have them airlifted to Lane Hall and ceremoniously dropped each month when the moon is full. Hire Laura Bush to hand-deliver each one. Let”s see a bit of that college essay originality that got you into the University in the first place.
Not to pick on the right-wingers the campus left is just as guilty of using outmoded activist techniques. They told us independents lots of scary things during last November”s election debacle most of them containing the phrase “a vote for Nader is a vote Bush” rather than giving us five good reasons to vote for Al.
Hash Bash was a step in the right direction (thousands of people smoking down in broad daylight to spite the law is just the kind of innovation I”m looking for), but even “high noon” is becoming old hat. What can be done to make this event more cutting-edge? How about calling in a major snack company to sponsor it? (“Hash Bash, brought to you by Hostess!”) I realize that some bleeding-heart, anti-American, radical commie liberals may object to “selling out” to such a large organization, but I would challenge any of them to refuse the free cream-filled chocolate cupcakes that would inevitably accompany such an agreement.
Remember: It”s for the greater good.
I hear the Greek system has been sending its boys to seminars aimed at combating the sexual harassment and date rape rampant in fraternities. This sort of “action,” while slightly better than nothing, is hardly an effective way to eradicate the problem. If the Greek higher-ups were really concerned about it, they would simply issue police-grade stun guns (or, say, pinking shears) to all the fine, upstanding young women who frequent their free-beer-and-booty-dancing weekend gatherings. Problem solved.
And then there are the Jesus people. (No, I am not referring to the campus Christian community. Please do not attempt to hold a prayer vigil outside my room or stone me to death on sight. Thank you.) The Jesus people are the amiable bunch that stands out in the Diag with signs so large, they completely obscure the front of the Grad library. They hand out informative pamphlets about your (and my!) personal descent in to the fiery pit of Hell. Call me a purveyor of blasphemy, but I think these devout doctrinaires should follow their leader”s lead, lose the signs and spend more time hanging out with the tax collectors and prostitutes. Besides being a great P.R. move, it”d be a lot more fun than hollering “salvation” at jaded college students day in and day out.
Hey, it might even teach them a little something about the art of persuasion.
Aubrey Henretty can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org