Toeing the Boundary Between Complicity and Incrementalism
(this is an opinion piece, and does not represent the sentiments of the Student Senate)
yea, Oberlin is "progressive", or at least we like to commodify ourselves that way. - first to admit women and people of color. "We are oberlin. fearless." says the motto that we spent millions of dollars in commercial investment developing.
why am i here? how progressive can oberlin get within the brainpower economy, and the neo-liberal arms-race for cultural capital*? And doesn't the act of participating in private liberal arts education make me complicit with the regime of social stratification--> a part of the structures i aim to subvert?
i guess whether or not we consent to the the capitalist framework, we are inundated with it and its resources. and oberlin has a lot of salient resources- legitimately excellent professors, online databases... a network of peers
so once we have come to terms with the fact that we are navigating as consumers, we can realize the saliency of incrementalism,,, and of coming together with other consumers to clarify our wants.
According to the poll board from the transparency project display in mudd, Oberlin students collectively value responsible investment, financial aid, environmental initiatives, and paying lower paid staff more equitably.We do not want the administrators to be paid more, and fewer people value better dorms or higher quality food. Just collecting a consensus like that is a good start.
In the spectrum of prestigious colleges, Oberlin does not do poorly in these regards. Krislov does not make nearly as much as the professor of harvard, and in fact, nobody in the administration makes over 250,000 a year. We give numerous environmental or solidarity grants, are fairly receptive to environmentalist initiatives like the bottled water restrictions, and we spend much less on manicuring the campus than many other colleges. And we don't provide a business major. none of our iniquities are outside the ordinary.
true- if change takes place here, it's going to have to take place everywhere because oberlin is still operating within the same framework as everyone else- competing for the tuition savings funds of prospective students, and trying to balance their budget at the same moment. but there is a lot to be said for organizing locally and engaging with your own community. so do it. be a smart consumer and band with the other consumers, and decide intelligently and intentionally what product you want the manufacturers to produce. And while you are doing that, you can still work towards catalyzing the larger revolution.
Here are a few things you can do towards shifting the priorities of the college:
-directly tell the trustees, and The President your problem
(ie: the school has a current portfilio at only about 15% from renewable sources at this time. (from the Why is the College Still on Coal Energy?)
-write a petition and collect signatures (see: Write a Petition)
-Talk to a Student Senator, or go to the Senate Plenary at 7:00pm every sunday in wilder 115. They can write a resolution- which is a formalized document that makes student opinions official and historical.
*CULTURAL CAPITAL- knowledge as commodity, a self marketing tool.
what are we doing here?