Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The article I was wrong about - in a way.

Why was I wrong? I thought it was entirely necessary to be escorted around campus for the weeks following this publication because of all the hate mail and rocks that would be flung at my head. Instead, I received three hand-written thank you letters in the mail from staff or faculty members who appreciated the honesty in my story, and a voice-mail from another staff member. I say "in a way" in the literal sense, not in the pseudo or maybe not so pseudo pretentious way I've used it in the past - as a reference to Camus' 'The Fall' - better than 'The Stranger' if you get around to reading it. Very highly recommended. I felt the title was appropriate because I took the liberty of quoting Albert Camus twice in this story, published a few days after the November election in 2008.

I never did find out who the individuals were who sent me the thank you notes, nor did I find out the name of my source - he reported directly to my best friend and former human resources staff worker, who refused to tell me the gentleman's name, even off the record.

As an irrelevant and admittedly Krameresque "hipster-dofus" aside - Camus is such an inspiration to me, that I had the words 'Life is Absurd' tattooed on myself several weeks after this article was published, the day before Thanksgiving to be exact. So - two years late, but thanks Camus, you Bogarty French ruffian for without you, my lede would not have been nearly as refined as I'd hoped it would be.

Amendment 8: Padron’s One-Sided War
By: Katherine Concepcion

Albert Camus spoke of the “Puppets and chatterboxes who pretend to speak in the name of the people.” For the past month, the chatterbox has been playing to the tune of “Yes on 8!” and the puppets have donned the matching pins and t-shirts.

We have all seen the signs, most of us have heard the radio spots, and fewer may have read Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron’s Miami Herald article (‘MDC central to our chance for prosperity’, dated October 16th, 2008).

An explanation of the nature of the amendment is not in order here, what is however, is how Miami Dade College has ever gotten away with this arrogantly blatant lobbying.
Even if a law preventing a public, tax-funded college from endorsing a constitutional amendment did not exist, would it be as widely accepted if the amendment being promoted were not Amendment 8?

Would there be a massive outcry if Miami Dade College had suddenly come out in support of a vote of Yes on Amendment 2?

What about if Miami Dade College had publicly announced their endorsement of a political candidate and began investing thousands of dollars in radio spots, signs, pins, and other tchotchkes?

Why is it so acceptable to everyone that Miami Dade College supports a certain vote on a certain amendment when no one would feel okay about Miami Dade College endorsing another political issue? Why is Amendment 8 arbitrarily in the clear?

Miami Dade College’s own recorded phone announcements speak of “supporting democracy” by voting for Amendment 8. There is a blissful bit of irony in this situation, as “democracy” is being pushed on to students and staff, at the threat of reproach or no club funding. You cannot force democracy through the barrel of a gun, and you cannot expect an entire college population to be ideologically in line with the ideals of its president.

It is irrelevant whether the cause is a noble one, attempting to receive more money for students. The fact remains that an element of intimidation has been introduced to our campus by the campaign of Amendment 8.

A few weeks ago, campus club advisers were told that any club which did not participate in Amendment 8 activities should not expect any funding. This seems like a form of extortion. Certain members of the faculty and staff may have begrudgingly agreed to attend Amendment 8 events for fear of losing their jobs or being ostracized by the administration.

When asked the question: Have you felt pressure from your superiors to support Amendment 8? An MDC employee, who shall remain anonymous, responded, "Yes, I have been harassed with emails, voicemails, and one on one discussion. I have been forced to wear the button and the sticker. I don't believe in Amendment 8, but they make it seem like you'll lose your job if you're not for it."

Is this the kind of environment the administration wants to provide for its staff and students, for them to feel like a group of black-listed, radical subversives? For an institution which prides itself on its “open door policy” and “democratic” ideals, they are being pretty closed minded about any dissent on the issue.

At the time of this writing, one week has passed since the tragic deaths of Lisa Ard and Callie Pascal, two incredibly altruistic college employees who were killed in a car accident while they were en route to an Amendment 8 road blocking event.

After the accident, all Amendment 8 activities were allegedly canceled.

Recently, it was discovered that students and faculty were still sent out to polling locations to hold signs for Amendment 8, and the events were offered as extra credit in a variety of courses.

Thank goodness that another terrible accident did not occur to an attendant of one of these events. Although all events weren’t canceled, the other planned events were, so it is still important to ask: Why did it have to take the deaths of two innocent people for the administration to realize that it is not right to push students and staff into supporting their agenda?

Hopefully in the future, Miami Dade College will be less quick to pimp their legislation of the month and require others to do so. This is necessary, you know, for the “spirit of democracy.”

While it may be easier said than done for a student group or staff member to stand up and openly condemn the threats proposed by Student Life, one must never forget to stand up for one’s self. The minute you allow yourself to be heinously walked upon, no matter whom the authority, you give up a little bit of your freedom and thus a little bit of your humanity.

In light of the realization that many people on campus would prefer not to bother raising an objection, perhaps with the intent to remain “respectful” towards their superiors, Camus had another nugget of wisdom for this group to reflect upon, “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”