Monday, October 15, 2007

Our Fight

One of the oldest tactics of authoritarian regimes is to divide the enemy into different subsections. Do not let them do this. We are all students at Northwestern. Some of us are Greek, some of us aren't; some of us drink, others don't, but we all share the same amount of freedoms under this administration and that makes the fight for student freedom OUR fight.

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right." Thomas Paine's introduction to Common Sense reveals the administrations favorite tactic. They want you to think that their rules are unquestionable and that they exist to rule us, not to serve us. They achieve this goal using fear of punishment, whether its by soiling your transcript or sending you to Student Affairs, the Dean, or the secretive UHAS panel. When you forget you hold the power, you start to think solely within their system. "I'm a good student. I only break the rules occasionally and discretely. Hopefully I won't be the one they chose to make an example out of." We don't need to think this way anymore. We need to empower ourselves.

Personal freedom goes hand in hand with empowerment, empowerment leads to creativity, productivity and more empowerment. Suppression, on the other hand, leads to the feeling of powerlessness, then fear, adversity to risk, and more powerlessness. Why aren't there more student run businesses at NU? Why aren't we more politically active or more outspoken? Why isn't student government more powerful? Why do so many of us feel vulnerable and fearful of the administration? These are all examples of the lack of student empowerment at this school. Simplifying this issue to "Let us drink" hides the real significance of the debate over UHAS, Mary Desler and repressive policies focused on how we spend our free time. The administration doesn't think we can make good decisions about our own lives, our community or our university

When we choose to act responsibly (abstaining from drinking, partying or neglecting our studies) those are our own personal victories and they strengthen our character. When we are all coerced into doing those things out of fear instead of will power, we lose those victories and they become the university's. Naturally, we tend to rebel against the authority that tries to define our personal victories as products of their own tactics instead of our own rational decisions. Your achievements are your own, and so are your failures.

Freedom isn't as popular as you think. It puts a lot of pressure on people because their failure to act appropriately is their failure alone. Some people don't trust themselves to make good decisions (or at least learn from their bad ones). Others want their own moral codes imposed on 'the masses' because of their elitist mentalities. Furthermore when people are free, there is less individual power to hoard, so those in positions of authority support the concept in theory but not practice.

Freedom isn't free. We have to fight for it. If the administration continues to act heavy-handedly in cases concerning how students spend their free time, there will be protests; but there is so much more to do. We're fighting for a culture of freedom and empowerment. Start a student run business; make a public speech somewhere unexpected; display some experimental art; start questioning administration policies and look at their long term implications. Most importantly, fight for your right to live as you chose because only you can make yourself happy.

Devin Balkind


I have a message for the administration: if you don't have faith in us, we won't have faith in you. Don't bother asking me for money in the future.


Join the debate. Participate in the movement at

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