Walk-Out: Good Idea or Wrong Message?
The much-anticipated Walk Out for Penn State is being held Monday, and while some see it as the best, most-organized effort to demonstrate against Governor Corbett’s budget cuts yet, the event has also had its naysayers.
Sean Healy, one of the primary organizers of the event, said the idea was the result of the coming-together of several demonstration efforts against the budget cuts.
Everything down to the date was thought out by organizers. April 4th seemed like the perfect date to hold the demonstration, Healy said, because it is the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination and a day of widespread protest for various causes across the nation.
The idea of the walk-out event is to “stand together in solidarity,” Healy said, adding that it will also be a learning event for those in attendance.
Organizer John Fitzgerald echoed that sentiment, saying that while many students are outraged at Corbett’s cuts, they forget that it’s a broader issue that affects the entire state, including the branch campuses and the other state and state-related schools.
“This will severely hurt the Pennsylvania economy and Pennsylvania families,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than just Penn State or University Park.”
Fitzgerald added that Corbett isn’t alone in cutting education funding.
“Governor Tom Corbett is just one of a long line of governors using the economic crisis to balance the budget on the backs of students and workers,” he said.
The event has also garnered some disapproval, though. Some take issue with a demonstration that involves students leaving classes or neglecting work, saying it sends the wrong message when students don’t take advantage of their classes and academic resources.
Healy doesn’t see it that way at all, though.
“If we don’t do this now, there won’t be a chance to get the most out of these classes next year,” he said. “So skipping one class now is getting the most out of our time now.”
He said many of the classes we have now might get cut in the University’s various program cut-backs. By his reasoning, missing one hour of class (or whatever you happen to be doing at that time) is helping to secure those classes in full for next year.
Others simply don’t think it will make a difference. Fitzgerald disagrees.
“I think this is going to have a huge impact on leaders around the country as part of the We Are One rallies,” he said.
The We Are One movement encourages constructive protest on April 4 in defense of workers rights, education and many other causes. Fitzgerald said he thinks that these rallies happening together on the same day will send a message to leaders across the nation.
But that begs one more question: Will the voice of Penn State students be drowned out among so many other causes?
Despite lingering doubts about whether this rally will catch the attention of Harrisburg and whether it will send the right message, you really have to hand it to them — this is easily the best-organized rally so far.
Appearances are expected from Mayor Goreham and the head of the local Teamsters union representing University workers, Healy said.
Fitzgerald is also optimistic about the event, believing that the event will at least demand recognition.
As much as I want this rally to catch the attention of our lawmakers and administrators, I still have my doubts. What do you think, does this rally send the wrong message or does it demonstrate solidarity? Will it even gain the attention of legislators and administrators?