The Bay Area Occupy (This Space) rallies appear to have begun to focus their ire on California's public universities, specifically the cuts and tuition increases that have been all too common the last few years. You can always get students upset about these things, but now the faculty for at least one East Bay university has joined in.
They pitched no tents. They were struck by no police batons.
But the hundreds of chanting, dancing, drum-pounding California State University faculty members who converged on CSU's Hayward campus today to demand promised raises did do a "mike check," the Occupy Wall Street movement's signature method of addressing large crowds without a microphone.
"Mike check!" shouted a voice from within the crowd at Cal State East Bay. "When faculty are forced to leave the CSU for better pay and working conditions, the value of your degree is on the line!"
Faculty, joined by students and some state lawmakers, repeated his words in the now familiar call-and-response fashion of Occupy protesters.
Cal State East Bay was one of two campuses in the 23-campus system - the other was Cal State Dominguez Hills - where most faculty walked out of class in a one-day strike to call attention to the cancellation of pay raises and stalled labor negotiations
This is absurd, and not just because a bunch of educated middle-aged teachers are carrying on like they are bad-ass street rebels. (back in my younger days, I would have bust a gut laughing at any of my high school teachers or college professors joining any kind of "movement"). These teachers are one of the reasons why the public universities are in so much trouble, both because of the high cost of employing them, and the low quality of their pedagogy. Yet, clueless students upset about tuition increases are no doubt thrilled to receive this show of solidarity. Uh, guys, these teachers are not your friends. Secretly, they want tuition to go up, so their salaries go up as well.
Not only that, they are feeding you a steady diet of nonsense, especially those hip professors who use Michael Moore movies as a teaching tool and keep a Nader For President bumpersticker on their office door. They've been telling you about how Republicans and "big business" are evil, but all of these cuts you are protesting - not to mention virtually every other problem in the formerly Golden State - are coming from Democrats in government. Wall Street isn't raising your tuition; Democrats are.
And not only that, the Democrats - who control virtually every lever of power in the state - haven't lifted a finger trying to cut the real expenses driving the state into a hole: public employee pensions, redistributionist welfare payments, and unchecked illegal immigration. No, it's always students. That's partly because kids are always good for some dramatic "student strike" headlines, but also because there's always another group of students coming along once the previous bunch has graduated. If anyone ever manages to realize they are nothing more than human shields for some retired bureaucrat's pension, they're already long gone.
It's days like this when you can't help thinking a good loyalty oath would do wonders.