This past Thursday morning, I was both saddened and disappointed by my fellow students. In case one of the many fliers all over campus didn’t land in your hand or you happened to miss the large announcements in colored chalk by the doorways of the buildings, I’m referring to the student-led protest.
UNO had to cut something; there’s simply no way to deny that. Without money from state legislature to keep all of our programs going, it was up to the chancellor to decide how to reduce our expenses. I very much liked Vice Chancellor Hodgson’s comment at the forum on Wednesday about the decision to cut certain programs, likening it to having a person choose which arm to cut off (obviously a lose-lose situation).
Basically, since any type of cut at a university will affect somebody, there was no way around students getting upset over this. There were petitions going around to keep programs intact, as well as fliers being handed out to show the chancellor and vice chancellors receiving raises in their salaries. There were people standing in front of the crowd, shouting out the injustices and what we, as students, could do to effect change. All of this is fine but what follows is upsetting.
As I said at the beginning, the protest really saddened me and this is why: despite your take on the budget cuts or the economy or politics in general, I think we all deserve to be heard. However, when a man stood up with a sign saying "No whining" with a slash through it, more than a dozen protestors were rude to him in different ways.
Some just pointed at him and talked to each other, others glared, but the worst of it was that a handful of people threatened to beat him up. Another woman stood up next to him with a sign saying "Pays too much for taxes" and a sad face with an arrow pointing to him. As I waited there, listening, I heard her ask why he was calling them whiners, to which he told her he wasn’t calling anyone names, just standing there with a sign. She continued to talk to him, getting more and more snippy and then having the audacity to make a comment about how she can tell by how he was dressed that he obviously has enough money and then I couldn’t be silent any longer.
I stepped in and said he wasn’t calling anyone names, as he’d said, however she was standing next to him with an arrow pointing to him and why was he getting personally attacked (his economic status? I mean, come on) for giving his opinion? She didn’t say much but walked away.
My point is this: I believe in the freedom of speech and for fighting for what you believe in, however, people have to realize they need to go about it the right way. I’m not saying everyone was ugly about it but those who were shouldn’t have been. If you’re fighting for diversity and getting your say, then let someone else with a DIVERSE (aka conflicting, in this case) opinion let his voice be heard as well. However, trying to harass, insult and threaten someone who doesn’t agree with you is simply not the way to go. Although, I guess I should have expected some people would manifest such behavior since the flyers banning them all together said boldly "Angry?"
Everyone has a right to be angry, upset, saddened, whatever … but I beseech you to please take those emotions to fight for what you believe in while holding on to your personal integrity and human decency. If we can’t even be civil to each other, why would anybody take us seriously to actually enact some changes with the budget?
Sophomore chemical engineering major