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May 12, 2006

a mild protest

At the University of Maryland, we have a Coalition for Civic Engagement and Leadership. I serve on it, along with many administrators and a few professors and students. A group of undergraduates recently learned of our coalition. Critical of Maryland for failing to encourage activism and engagement, they decided to show up uninvited at our meeting and make a statement--whether we liked it or not.

Of course, we were excited and delighted. What are we but a bunch of ex-student activists who long for the scent of tear gas in the groves of academe? (Or at least a good anti-apartheid rally.) We planned to rush through our official business an hour early so that we could turn our attention to the students when they showed up. Some of my colleagues even helped the protesters to locate the room. They dutifully filed in, exactly on time, and took their seats: some in dreadlocks and tie-dyed shirts. Extremely nice, cautious, and a little diffident, they began to speak about their goal of making the campus, like, more engaged?

My colleagues and I listed politely and then probed the students for more ideas and opinions. At the end, various members of the Coalition complimented the students for their political act, saying that they had already changed the campus for the better. On his way out, one of the young men asked me about admission to the School of Public Policy.

I hardly know how to explore the comic possibilities here.

Posted by peterlevine at May 12, 2006 12:46 PM


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