Right now I feel kind of inept.
Emotionally, intellectually, my spirit: inept.
I met an acquaintance today (well, yesterday), after two years — he was in my Lord of the Rings course — and he told me about how he’d transferred to York. University of Toronto is shit, he told me, compared to York. The professors actually care about you, the courses are designed to help you learn, not to make you burn. The level of difficulty isn’t necessarily easier, he said, it’s the way York treats you — indeed, it treats you as a human being, a person. If the purpose of a university education is learning, then the University of Toronto has broken it, just like it has broken the spirits of several students who have come here. He went on about it for a while.
I really have no reference point when it comes to the University of Toronto and comparing it to other institutions. Well, not until I met this guy. Sure, the evidence is anecdotal, but hot damn — what the fuck.
I looked back at my two years on ASSU and I tried to pull out tangible things that I or we have brought through to make things better for the students. Academically. I found none. Nothing new, nothing improved. ASSU, in the last two years — to my recollection — has accomplished squat. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m missing something. Yes, of course, there was the time I got the Dean to apologize to BIO250 students. Then the other times I’ve gotten into tiffs with instructors/lecturers/professors for all kinds of reasons. But other than that? I really don’t know. Perhaps being able to maintain the status quo is something. I think? I don’t know. We tell ourselves to take solace in our little victories, and that’s nice, but have we really moved ourselves to accomplish something big? I’m sitting here and I’m thinking that ASSU can be so much more, but I feel like I’m devoid of ideas.
If I’m devoid of ideas, I’m devoid of action. Where do the ideas come from? Everyone. But for that, you need communication and I don’t see that. There needs to be a regularized channel of communication. Apparently, that’s what course unions in ASSU are for. To keep the Executive’s ear to the ground, so that we can all pool our resources and effect some change. But that doesn’t happen. I don’t see it happening. I see that it might happen, but we really need something for that.
I don’t think it takes just one leader. Maybe it does. Maybe it takes a confluence of several leaders, in several positions. I don’t know. We ought to think about these things. How do we make our lives better — the lives of students better? We don’t think. It seems to me that we keep putting things off for an ever-later date. We don’t think. We’re devoid of ideas.
(I’m sorry if these musings seem esoteric or are inaccurate, feel free to ask for clarification or reprimand for correction.)
Recently, there has been a rash of thefts in the lockers that ASSU rents out to students in the basement of Sidney Smith. Things such as laptops and textbooks (incidentally, the one I’ve had tiffs over) have been stolen. Although ASSU has repeatedly asked Campus Police to conduct some sort of investigation, they’ve said that they don’t have the time or resources to do so — because the value of the stolen goods is not large enough, apparently. I don’t think you can base shit on the value of the stolen goods, it has to be based on the relative value. For students, a textbook is a big deal, a laptop is a fortune. If a senior administrator at the University had her car stolen, the Campus Police, I suspect, would be on that buggy like a hungry dog on a scrap of meat. What does it take?
The web site for the Undecided Party of Canada has some thoughtful ideas. It may seem to be a joke site, but don’t be fooled, it addresses some very serious issues and posits some absolutely interesting ideas.
On its about page:
If Conservatives could call themselves Progressive,
If the current federal Liberals can call themselves…Liberal,
If an organization that takes contributions from union dues without requiring the consent of those paying the dues can call itself the New Democratic Party,
And if the Reform Party can go without making any significant reforms, change its name to the Alliance Party without creating any significant alliances, and then drop the Alliance name after negotiating the only important alliance in its short history,
…any misconceptions about the meanings behind the UDP’s name can simply be considered part of the fine tradition of misdirection and manufactured disorientation that defines the political process.
This site is making me reconsider my support for the NDP. I’m half thinking of writing “undecided” on my ballot and spoiling it. I encourage people to become politically active, but when I reflect upon the state of things I feel incredibly discouraged. Most people are dimwits, it seems, in politics. It’s like they have an idiot convention where they pick who’s going to become a politician — liars, assholes, braggarts and all-around fuckheads are in high demand.
I’ll probably end up voting NDP. I’ll probably end up campaigning for the NDP as well. It’s important, I guess. If you can’t really effect change by kicking the shitheads out or being wittily ironical by spoling your ballot, you can at least moderate them by electing less fucked-up people to do something more positive.
This has to be one of the most incoherent and rambling posts I’ve written in a long time. I’ve barely covered half of what’s on my mind. Maybe less. I have an essay due on Wednesday. I have to work on that.