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Group assignments where you end up doing a majority of the work
Group assignments where they do the work they’re assigned, but it’s incorrect
Group assignments where you have to be the motivator in the group, despite being a procrastinator yourself
Group assignments where you’re the good kind of procrastinator that gets shit done
Group assignments where during the last minutes before it’s due, they’re sending rough drafts to you to check and edit
Living with your "choices"
Opponents of economic justice spend an awful lot of time talking about people’s “choices.”
They talk as if such a thing as free choice actually exists, upholding the thing they call the free market (which, supposedly exists).
Don’t like your ISP? Change it, they say! Except… there’s actually just the one ISP for your entire area.
Employer doesn’t offer decent health care? Get a new one! Except…. you can’t afford to be out of work because of your debt and anyway, there aren’t any jobs to be had.
And what about that debt? If you didn’t want it you could have chosen not to go to college! It’s your own fault! Except… you probably decided to go to college as a teenager after a whole life of being raised in the idea that it was right and good and necessary for success. You probably didn’t have a realistic idea of what your other options were at the time (if you really did have any other options). Maybe your parents even pushed it, though lord knows you weren’t rich. And maybe it turns out you did need that degree, just to get your foot in the door of the glorious world of low-or-no paying entry level skilled labor jobs. Welcome. Enjoy.
Because that’s the thing. The thing they never want to talk about or admit. Our choices are constrained. Sometimes they are constrained quite deliberately. Sometimes they are just constrained by the nature of the field and the players. Limited options to begin with, imperfect knowledge of what those options are, imperfect understanding of what those options are going to mean, in real terms, five or ten or twenty years down the road.
I remember going to the Financial Aid department at my college. I had this naive idea that they were there to work with me and, well, aid me in paying for school. Silly now, I know. I didn’t know about all the options out there. I didn’t know about things like Pell grants. I had done research, but I just hadn’t come across them. And no one let me know, either. They steered me straight into private loans.
My worst one has the same interest rate as my credit card. But back then, I’d never had a credit card before either. I’d never paid on an interest bearing loan. Today I’d take one look at the numbers on that contract and run screaming, but back then? I just didn’t know what I needed to in order to make the best decision. I had to rely on the adults around me for guidance, and we see how that’s worked out.
Quite frankly we shouldn’t be expecting young people to be able to make the perfect right decision when they lack a lot of meaningful experience about the world. Especially at that age, even a very little time to experience things can make a world of difference. 23 year old me would have made much better decisions about loans than 18 year old me did, and 28 year old me has gotten a lot better at this money thing than 23 year old me was.
And the really perverse thing is that we’ve set up a system that allows and even encourages young people to make decisions —possibly mistakes, that will hamstring —possibly ruin their lives for decades to come. What kind of a society does that? Should the goal be to equip young people to succeed instead?
Why do even we have such a system?
Why isn’t there a consistent, mandatory curriculum of what it’s going to be like in real terms to deal with your finances as an adult? Using examples that students will relate to, examples that they will grasp as impacting their lives.
Why don’t financial aid departments have an affirmative, legal obligation to find non-massively-endebtening method for a student before referring them along to private loan companies?
Why aren’t non-college options like apprenticeships covered more and covered more positively?
Why can’t we get some more paid apprenticeships even for post-college careers instead of these bullshit internship programs?
Why the fuck aren’t student loans not covered by bankruptcy?
Why does school cost so much in the first place?
Middlebury students stage checkpoint, Call on college to divest from Israeli apartheid
Submitted by Jay Saper
May 19, 2013
On May 15, students at Middlebury College in Vermont staged a checkpoint outside their dining hall during the busiest meal of the year to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel.
As the Middlebury divestment campaign from arms and fossil fuels gains national attention, a coalition that included Palestinian, Israeli, and American Jewish students staged the act of political theater in solidarity with Nakba Day demonstrations around the globe as a call to add apartheid to the students’ divestment demands.
At a midnight breakfast event during finals week, students were greeted in the dark with barricades blocking the entrance to the dining hall and flashlights from full uniformed soldiers asking for identification cards.
Alex Jackman, a junior from New York City, described the checkpoint as “one of the coolest pieces of theater I have seen on Middlebury Campus. Performed during the time when all students are wrapped up in stress about exams and schoolwork, the piece served as a reminder that there are greater battles to fight beyond our campus.”
A gate was lifted for students who had received Israeli documentation. They could pass freely to prepare themselves a plate of pancakes. Those with Palestinian IDs were directed around the checkpoint.
Some students voiced their frustration with being held up, “This is not cool, I am trying to get to midnight breakfast.” One shouted, “I have to study for finals.”
Jackman contended it was important for students to confront the checkpoint. She explained, “Middlebury College students tend to abstract issues of social injustice, a method that allows us to remove ourselves from these issues. But by being confronted, quite literally, with this piece of theater, we were not able to remove ourselves from our privileges—even if only for a moment.”
The performance, developed by students as part of a course on Theater and Social Change and members of the organization Justice for Palestine, was broken up by campus public safety.
“This is not theater, we can tell it is political,” one officer voiced. “Everything that is political has to be approved by the College.”
For Palestinians, checkpoints are not a momentary interruption, but one persistent piece of a dehumanizing system of apartheid. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 67 Palestinian mothers who were forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints and 36 of those babies died.
Apartheid is not enabled through merely subjecting a people to oppressive conditions, but rather through creating separate realities whereby a group of people is not forced to confront their implication in the domination of another group.
Middlebury College itself is a settlement on stolen Abenaki land. With its pristine limestone buildings and perfectly manicured grass, Middlebury manufactures an environment seemingly separate from the oppressions it perpetuates, which is itself a political act.
Students at Middlebury are stepping up and refusing to allow a separation of conscience that tolerates inaction in face of the school profiting from Israeli apartheid. Justice for Palestine has one message for administrators, particularly fitting of a midnight action, “We will not rest, until you divest.”
Jay Saper is a student organizer with Justice for Palestine at Middlebury College.