Well, There They Go Again…

These signs have been popping up around campus. A pity (click to enlarge). I suppose it was inevitable. With a campus as liberal as Dartmouth we were bound to get a protest of some sort sooner or later. As luck would have it, we now have two of them.

First up is the obligatory protest from Dartmouth’s least favorite student group: Dartmouth Students Stand With Staff. Yes, again. Those of you who haven’t been on the Dartmouth campus for the last two years may not know anything about this group, so here’s a little background after the jump.

When President Jim Yong Kim took over for Jim Wright in the fall of 2009, he faced a $100 million budget gap. To close that gap, Dartmouth had to lay off a small number of unionized staff. Not many, mind you, and some benefits were cut. Dartmouth was able to later rehire several of those that had been laid off.

In response, some perturbed students with too much time on their hands formed Dartmouth Students Stand With Staff. Their mission: to protect union wages and benefits, even if it meant going so far as to hold a candlelight vigil on the Green. They’ve done some other silly stuff, too, and are pretty close to SEIU 560, Hanover’s chapter of the Service Employees International Union, but nobody’s paid them much attention since that melodramatic vigil.

Well, despite the many bones I—and, for that matter, many other students—have to pick with SSWS, I’ll at least give them credit for their dogged determination to grab the spotlight. So, tomorrow, they’re going to hold a protest before the GOP debate on the southwest corner of the Green from 4:00 to 8:00. As the sign says, “Bring signs, song, donations (extra glovers, markers, vitamins).” I’m not really sure what they’re going to give those donations to, though; are they going to keep them to help make signs and fortify themselves during the winter quarter or something?

A closer look at a lack of perspective (click to enlarge). The most amusing part about this is that it’s supposed to be part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, this is a movement whereby young, disillusioned hipsters have taken to “occupying” Wall Street in New York City. There are several copycat movements now as well, like Occupy Portland, and many in the media seem to want to treat it like it’s the leftist version of the Tea Party. Call me unimpressed. When a student group exists solely to talk about how hard those in the Dartmouth staff have it—and at some of those wages, I’m not quite sure how hard they really do have it—while ignoring how expensive this school is becoming, it tends to leave other students unimpressed at the plight of the unionized worker. On the whole, SSWS isn’t well-liked on campus and their stubborn refusal to understand basic economics or stick up for their fellow students do them no favors in the PR department.

Next up is one less aggravating protest, namely one to support global AIDS research funding, which will run partly during the same timeframe, 3:00 to 7:00. At least this one isn’t about protecting union wages or spitting on anyone who happens to work in finance. In fact, it’s absolutely peaceful by comparison; the Facebook event page states that the event’s organizers want to “encourage the candidates to support the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS resolution calling for AIDS drugs for 15 million people by 2015.”

Honestly, it’s hard to say no to something like that (disclaimer: I’ve not read the resolution in question, but I’m reflexively leery of any resolution that comes out of the U.N.; once I read it, my opinion may shift radically). Nobody likes the fact that millions have a disease like AIDS, but if we don’t get our economic house of cards in order, there won’t be much money to give towards said research. The country should be focused on one thing right now, and that’s fixing our fiscal and economic situation.  

Sterling C. Beard