The Rant of an Enraged Professor

Relax, chill, calm down.

I will pray for you.

Mantras of the past several decades that have virtually no meaning except to say we should not get angry or buck that status quo which has brought our nation to the point of being among the worst places for children to grow up. It’s astonishing that we have the child poverty rates and imprisoning rates we do when there is plenty of space and money to go around–if only it actually went around.

Time to stop chillin’ and start getting pissed. Really pissed. Never, ever pray for me. Do something. If you believe in God, then believe you have the ability to act. Praying alone does nothing.

Being “calm and carrying on” has brought us precisely to this point. If we’re honest, we all know that’s true. None of us wanted to be the person who spoke out and looked unpleasant or wasn’t liked. But now we’re beyond that. Let’s hope we aren’t too late.

I work at Southern Oregon University. I teach a newspaper class and a broadcast news class. After 90 consecutive years of operating a paper, the school has withdrawn all support. Now they like to say it’s not like that, but it is exactly like that. The student fee committee defunded it, the university is no longer offering it as a for credit class and did not give enough notice for the students to raise money to keep it going.

A former writer for the newspaper who is now nationally recognized put it this way, what kind of half assed school doesn’t have a newspaper? What parent sends their kid to a school like that?

We started a gofundme [] and the university finds this so humiliating they can’t bear it. We’ve been told in a polite, educated way that it is not appropriate fundraising. I agree. But what way is there but to draw public attention to the fact that a public university is pulling financial support from its student newspaper therefore causing it to be silenced?

We did the gofundme and we wrote stories about it. Still are. We also went to other news outlets. Still are.

We’re journalists. How can we not cover our own story? How can we not point out the value of transparency and real reporting on a university campus? How can we not value journalism as a cornerstone of a free society and an informed electorate? How can we chill and watch Netflix when the world is burning, literally?

We’ve raised a thousand bucks but need about 5 to keep going. It costs roughly 20,000.00 annually for the newspaper to be effective. But 5,000 can keep it running through fall term. I’m not going to be paid. I’ll volunteer if the students will have me.

Some things transcend personal interests. We’ve lost our way on that as a country. The so called “greatest generation” left a shit show for these young people to clean up. The jumble of nonsense that is the “system” of university funding is a big part of that shit show. It’s not the professors. These folks work hard to engage students and make small salaries despite huge debt themselves for their education. It’s not them. It is however the administration at a state level of universities. It is, in Oregon, the greed of the University of Oregon often called Nike U which wants to hoard its money and choke out smaller schools like mine.

It is also the refusal of educated people to get pissed about this.

Do university’s understand that raising tuition and cancelling classes while paying administrators six figure salaries is counter intuitive? If no one can afford school and there is not support for things like a student newspaper which is a basic indicator of a school’s seriousness then there is nothing to administer.

Are we this short sighted?

Do we not understand that educating young people is more important than a retiree having enough change to play golf every day? Do we get that if we suck up all the world’s resources today, there will be no golf courses or cars or life because that steak dinner and cheap clothes and golf course cost someone, somewhere everything and one day it will cost us all?

The greatest thing my dad ever said to me is that there is no free lunch. Everything costs something. The cost of ignoring our children’s education is a nation of unsustainable ignorance. The cost of greed is national poverty of the 99%. The cost of buying cheap stuff is the entire life of a political prisoner in China or a child dying in a factory fire in Bangladesh, the cost of eating that cheap burger is low wages, gallons and gallons of water and monoculture of corn as well as more co2 emissions than any car on the road could ever produce and the cost of not being informed is all of the above.

The value of rage is real. We are programmed to be angry when we are in jeopardy. That time is now. Do not “Keep calm and carry on” but demand change to policies that are killing our planet, you and our children. Fight for what you believe in. Raise your voice. Not your fists, not ignorance but your voice in an informed and real way. Be the Bernie you want to see in the world. (sorry I couldn’t resist) or more to the point be the you the world has been waiting for. Be the you that knows what’s fair and right and says so.

For me in this moment that is the me who teaches journalism to a hungry but small class of students who know the pen is mightier than the sword, who believe that education matters and that telling the verifiable truth is still a high calling and essential to a free nation.

Right now I stand with them and stand for The Siskiyou, The Voice of SOU Students to never be quiet! Stand with us.

When someone tells you to chill, tell them in no uncertain terms to get out of your way, off their couch and do something with themselves that matters.



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