I go to the major university in Los Angeles that did not, I am told by people who follow sports, win the late-November rivalry football game. Lately, Occupy protestors have moved on campus with their tents. Because we are not run by total pieces of shit, the authorities have yet to pepper spray anyone. It’s just kids in tents with signs, and the occasional rally.
Now, I’ve attended a couple of these rallies. I’m almost comically liberal: my dorm room is decorated with press clippings from the JFK years, George Stephanopoulos’ memoir, a drawing I made of Jon Stewart making out with Senator Barbara Boxer, and Seasons 1-4 of The West Wing (later seasons do not count due to an abject lack of Rob Lowe.) So, a Re-fund CA/Occupy rally should really be up my alley. This is not the case. And it is not the case because I’m an admirer of focus, and a rally which begins with a listing of valid grievances pertaining to impending tuition hikes, which then turns into some chanting about making banks pay, which then turns into the custodians demanding a pay raise, which then turns into a speech about immigration – all in the space of about twenty minutes – is not a focused rally.
I think that what these protestors need is a clear voice. A writer. A prophet. And I think I know a little something about prophets, or at least about talking more loudly and coherently than everyone else. So, here we go: my list of exactly, specifically, and accurately what the student protestors at my college should actually be protesting.
1. That we keep recruiting lesser celebrities
So, a couple years back, my school hosted a sleeping Shakira in its lecture halls. You know who NYU gets? Dakota effing Fanning. That’s, like, big leagues. We get Maroon 5; Columbia gets Vampire Weekend. Sure, we had James Franco, but Franco is the biggest educational slut in the universe. He goes to all the colleges and therefore does not count. I hereby declare that we shall procure a petition for the enrollment of real, grade-A, top-notch celebrities. I suggest Mila Kunis.
2. That there are no locks on the lockers in the dining halls
This perturbs me to no end. Yes, there are lockers, and apparently some coin-insertion procedure which I was never taught, but there are no traditional, easy-to-use locks.
3. The lack of decent protest music.
Watch any movie about the 1960s, and it is just chock full of amazing protest music. Seriously. You got your Creedence Clearwater Revival. You got your Bob Dylan. You got your David motherfucking Crosby. (Say what you want about his organ transplants. “For What It’s Worth” is an awesome song.) Go back to any other time of major unionizing or economic struggle and you have a metric shit-ton of kick-ass protest songs, be it Pete Seeger doing “We Shall Overcome” or Lisa Simpson’s union strike song.
What do we have? Foster the People? Their biggest song is about shooting kids with cool sneakers. Oy.
4. Cats and Toasters.
Cats are not allowed in the dorms. Neither are toasters. This is bullshit.
I realize that plenty of other things are also not allowed in the dorms, but the purpose here is to be focused. And I want to focus on cats. And also toasters. We need these things.
5. It’s really, really, really hard to find free condoms on campus.
Other schools have these in every residence hall. We have them for free in the LGBTQ center and the women’s health center – which are both closed by Friday night, and then all weekend. Condoms are pricey, and some people need to use them on the weekends. Pardon me for wanting to prevent STIs and pregnancies.
6. Loss of decent urban legends/hazing
So, you know when you show up at orientation and a current student tells you great stories about how, like, there are dead bodies hidden under the stairs under one of the lecture halls, and how there are locusts living in one of the libraries, and how a certain sixties rock star invented acid in the basement of the science building? And then, when you’re all psyched up about how cool your university is, said current student says, “Ha! Fooled you! It’s all fake!” ? It sucks. I really am upset in the lack of cherished, slightly disturbing tales around campus. Also, what is it with colleges banning hazing? Hazing, if Animal House has taught me correctly, is a cherished collegiate tradition. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m not in fear of being blindfolded and spanked with a paddle while I make pancakes for my elders and walk thirty miles naked in the desert. That’s just un-American.
7. People with razor scooters. They need to die.
Like, seriously. Kids thinking they’re all cool zooming around on their little scooter bikes. Oh, you’re so cool, getting to class on time and all that shit. What’s next? You gonna drive your car on campus? You gonna be all cool with your “driver’s license” because you don’t have “three DUIs” and you’re not “legally blind?” Please. Vehicles, of all sorts, shall hereby be outlawed.
8. The concept that in order to be a liberal, one must support all forms of protest, and consider protest the only real form of political engagement
So I wasn’t a true Occupy protestor. Doesn’t mean I don’t think “banks should pay.” Doesn’t mean I don’t like a good human microphone. Doesn’t mean I don’t believe in populous social movements. I just don’t like how this particular protest is set up. I also don’t like the amounts of police brutality against this protest. I mean, I really just want some decent political discourse, rather than superficial protesting (not that all protesting is superficial; a protest that gives out T-shirts and consists of more chants than actual themes, though, is).
Yawn. That’s a boring one.
9. Having to wear flip-flops in communal showers
If people just stopped having foot funguses and tapeworms, I could wiggle my toes in the shower and not feel the wretched suction-cup feeling on the tile floor with my wet flippy-floppies. Either put a shower in every room or cure all foot-based diseases. Please.
10. The rising cost of tuition at public universities, which is not reflected in the increasingly disproportionate student-teacher ratio nor in the decrease in discussion-based humanities learning/lab-based science education.
That’s probably a little too focused, though.
Megan Lent is a wonderfully unsuccessful blogger who likes to whine about literature at http://apostrophetothestars.blogspot.com/, and occasionally contributes to the steamy world of small-press fiction at Metazen and Housefire. She was the 62nd best speller in California in eighth grade, and used to run a brothel out of her parents’ house in Chicago. She lives in LA.