College students perplex me. I have to resist the urge to say “college kids” – a habit I picked up around old people. As much as I try, I can’t put myself in the white, American, 18-22 year-old mindset. Even when I was 18-22 myself, I could never fathom the unconscious sense of entitlement that many students demonstrate: when they doze off in class, for example. Wake up! That’s about eighty dollars worth of nap you just took; no matter who pays for it, it’s still a terrible waste.
Conservative die-hards have pegged the ivory tower of academia the “last bastion of communism.” That’s right, you, sleeping through lecture, are being brainwashed by commies. A surprising number of Americans believe this—the Americans that vote to cut your work-study hours short, your interest rates higher. You, partying away your youth, you, overachieving – you perpetuate these myths somehow.
In Europe, students get paid to go to university. The state pays tuition, housing, and stipends. As a veteran, I get paid to go to class. But as a veteran, I also take my job as a student seriously. Students in Europe also take their role quite seriously. In fact, in 1848 in Vienna, an academic legion of university students and professors actually led a coup d’etat. They actually fought for their right to sit in a boring lecture hall all day. In South America, students have been in the vanguard of every major nonviolent social movement. Why? Because they actually appreciate sitting through class all day instead of languishing in barrios.
We shouldn’t just “be grateful” that we have a work-study program. If it were up to the vocal conservative republicans, you wouldn’t have it at all. We should be out there fighting for the human right to accessible education. (Yes, the international community has made education a human right!) We should be out there proving all the anti- university forces wrong about us. We should have salaries like veterans or Europeans. But we should first of all not sleep through class. We should not drag along expecting pity grades. We should team with the faculty to build political power to make this place better. We should be vying for the privilege to write for the Weather Vane! We should be having raucous meetings of the student body, debating issues that affect us! We should take control of our lives, our identities as American college students. Let’s all take some time throughout the day to reflect on our position, the socioeconomic oppression that plagues many of our peers, and take ourselves seriously!
–Evan Knappenberger is a proud seventh-year junior.
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