Monthly Archives: December 2009

student activism

   President Spanier made an interesting point last Monday that at most colleges today you would be hard pressed to find a student lead demonstration or rally involving more than 60 people.

   I’ve thought about this often, and I wonder how recent the decline in organized student activism is, and how much of it can be attributed to the advent of the World Wide Web.

   With so many outlets for freedom to speak our opinions, perhaps today’s students aren’t motivated to voice their social frustrations because they feel like their opinions are already being heard. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that the larger public is less inclined to care about the ramblings of the millions of bloggers and tweeters than it is to pay attention to the marches and sit-ins of previous generations.

   From a philosophical perspective, what we’re observing is Aristotle’s fictional rhetorical situation; that the writer perceives his audience to be larger than it actually is (due to the anonymity of the internet). The problem is that it satisfies the writer’s/blogger’s/tweeter’s own desire to be heard, but not really accomplishing a whole lot.

   Still, PSU probably does better than most.


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Our fair share

Council members in Pittsburgh voted Wednesday to postpone
the vote on the “Fair Share Tax” -Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s proposed tax on
tuition. The tax would be 1% of tuition for students attending universities in
Pittsburgh, and has the potential to raise as much as $16 million for the city
annually.

An article for the Center Daily Times quoted State College
Mayor Elect Elizabeth Goreham saying “If this tax is found to be legal in
Pittsburgh, State College would definitely be in it here.”

Admittedly, a $300 increase in tuition isn’t going to matter
much for many students, but there remains a large portion of students who are
paying their own way through college. For them, $300 could mean one month’s
rent.

Furthermore, although out of state (or just out of county)
students at Penn State don’t pay taxes locally, they do already contribute well
over $30,000 annually to the local economy; some might say well more than our
“fair share”.

Additionally, how will the tax account for students in
Pittsburgh whose parents live in Pittsburgh; is it ethical to tax them twice?

Ultimately, my own concern with the tax is my objection to
the principle that is currently driving Ravenstahl’s proposal; the claim that
college students aren’t pulling their own weight in the local economy.