Aggression toward students creates an unhappy student body at AlabamaBy SoRelle Wyckoff | 02/24/2013 11:00pm
When I was little, I had a white, ceramic piggy bank. When I wanted to get money out, I had to remove a rubber plug on the underbelly of the white pig and meticulously pull dollar bills out one at a time. Frustrated with the process, for my final withdrawal, I grabbed a hammer and shattered the protective glass.
But then I had no piggy bank. I had no way to save, no way to store money and no future possibility of tangible safekeeping.
A money-hungry administration and an overly aggressive police force are adding pounds of pressure to the already fragile relationship between student and staff. If they are not careful, they will be overtaken with greed and find themselves pulling out the hammer to get rid of the protective shell of a strong student body.
For, as of right now, there are many students unhappy about their treatment in the past few weeks.
First, we received numerical evidence of the antagonistic behavior of UA transportation and ticketing. Then, we watched students, attempting to create a harmless dancing YouTube video, denied the right to assemble – a privilege guaranteed by the Constitution and made possible by the fact that The University of Alabama is a public university. And the icing on the cake was the arrest of 61 UA students for keeping pot in their dorm room.
But through it all, we were able to see the pride and joy of the University administration shine: its public relations department. Throughout each failure, on behalf of the University to provide for its current students, the PR department continued to shine its Alabama image for future buyers.
In focusing on the future, the administration is disregarding the happiness of their current customers- us.
I am slowly coming to the realization that we are nothing more than little dollar signs and numbers in a pie chart walking around the Quad. I have suspected this for a while, but this new evidence is definitely strengthening my theory.
A $7 million profit off students’ improper parking was the first flag. That’s a lot of money. It was quickly followed by an unnecessary threat to a freshman recreating a dance craze that has been allowed to happen at countless other universities.
But the final confirmation was the arrests of pot-smoking college students. Yes, I know it’s illegal. I’m going to resist the temptation to go down the “pot versus alcohol” rabbit hole and avoid the “private rights/what happens in your room is your business” argument. What I am going to do is question the reason behind such aggressive behavior.
When in doubt, follow the money. Because the real reason they arrested 61 college students is that they will pay their court fees and judicial fines with far greater ease than the guy high on heroin who passed out on my porch last semester.
What they called an attempt to clean up the “drug problem” of Tuscaloosa was really nothing more than a quick cash-in on a minority of students, most of whom are harmless kids just trying to get a little high.
The University is growing, and we are certainly proud of its accomplishments. But its first priority should be the students who are here now. No matter the skill of our University relations department, students are the ones who determine what kind of school this actually is.
Treating students with condescension will only drive the hammer harder into the protective shell of a content student body. And when that shell breaks into 33,000 tiny pieces, it will be almost impossible to put it back together.
SoRelle Wyckoff is a senior majoring in history and journalism. Her column runs on Mondays.
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