The following email was written by SCCC Faculty member Jeb Wyman and sent out widely to SCCC faculty and students. It is being reprinted here with his permission.
RATS, TRASH, AND NEEDLES. OH MY. By Jeb Wyman
A few of my colleagues have expressed gratitude to our administrators for their decisive actions to oust Occupy Seattle from the south lawn. I want to throw my roses to the matadors in the ring, too.
After last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, it was clear just how well they’d done. As it happens, that same afternoon, not long after the last smack of the gavel, I introduced poli sci faculty Jawed Zouari, who was delivering a lecture titled “From the Tunisian revolution to Occupy Seattle.” I told the crowd of about eighty students that the Trustees had just voted unanimously (a united front!) to ban camping on campus.
One student clapped enthusiastically. “GOOD!” he said. “Those guys throw needles in childcare centers.”
Maybe a dozen others glared at the young man—got to admire his guts—but that’s not the point. The point is that the young man seemed really to despise those nutjobs camped out in the rain. He despises them because, as far as he’s concerned, so it seems, they’re the scum of the earth.
It’s no secret how he came to feel that way. He and lots of others. Only ten days before, the administration pulled off a little media blitz. Quickie pieces appeared in the Seattle P-I, the Tribune, King 5, even KUOW (who cleverly rehashed King 5’s single-source story).
The news was all about rats, trash, drugs, dogs, booze, beer cans and used hypodermic needles in a children’s playground. Oh, and some stolen soap.
Now, let’s be honest, our “College of the Year” drops the ball now and then. Not this time, though. Home run! Rats, trash, and needles stuck in the public imagination like pedophilia to Penn State. Big schools like UC Davis are drowning in bad press (hapless pepper-spraying cop), but Seattle Central showed commanding form. With breath-taking efficiency and a cost-effective approach, the Occupy tribe were branded half-human drug addicts and drop outs. And they brought rats, the college said. You might call it propaganda with panache. Touche.
For sure, rats are a cherished institution at our institution. They’ve been crapping on my desk for years. Rats and the college go back a long ways, a Tom and Jerry kind of thing. Some old-timers might even remember a City Collegian article about rats in the culinary dept. kitchen, nibbling through flour sacks. (Funny, admin stamped out the 42-year-old student paper shortly after. Wonder why!)
Of course, if you spend much time at Seattle Central, you’ll get cozy with needles, too. Since 1994, I’ve parked in the lower level of the garage. On most mornings I detour around a puddle of sour pee (that bracing odor wakes you up!) in the stairwell. I’ve stepped over many a hypodermic needle on those stairs. And over broken gin bottles, stolen purses, beer cans in paper bags, empty plastic baggies. My car has been broken into three times. The garage was once equipped with security cameras, but they were—you can’t make this up!—stolen years ago.
A few years ago, the campus president locked up all first-floor bathrooms after too many homeless took sink baths and too many overdosed dope addicts were found sprawled in the stalls.
And in mid-October—that’s, uh, a few weeks before Occupy moved in—our facilities director put out an email blast (with great accompanying pix!) bemoaning that graffiti, vandalism, trash, needles, and “cleaning up the feces, and urine, and vomit left almost daily at our doorsteps” cost the school about $200,000 a year.
Sorry to gross you out, but I’m just quoting directly.
The point is, facts and first-class propaganda have nothing to do with each other. Only a fool would deny that. Quite the contrary, our administration knows what they’re doing. We’re not talking amateurs. This is poetry in motion. Salute!
Rats, trash, and needles hits ‘em in the gut, but you gotta do more than that. You gotta hit ‘em in the head, too. That’s what numbers are for. Well, how about $20,000 a week? That’s the price of Occupy on this impoverished campus, according to the administration. And that means killing off classes. (Maybe $20k is just a “ballpark” figure, with no documentation, but prove me wrong!). How about 2000 square feet? That’s the size of the lawn the Occupy hoard is crammed on, according to the administration, like slum dwellers in Mumbai. (It’s actually about four times that size, but who’s measuring?)
In case you missed it, last week’s packed Board of Trustees meeting was a multi-media propaganda tour de force. After 15 minutes of obligatory “public comment” time (yawn!), there was serious testimony. One student was reported to be dropping out because, he said, he shouldn’t have to put up with Occupy. “And I think he’s right,” said Pres. Killpatrick. (no word whether he was passing his classes!) One other student said she’d been “harassed” four times by Occupy people (and they’d only been on campus 13 school days). She complained, she said, to Dean Evans, who told the poor thing that her hands were tied because “the school is being held hostage.” (a hostage situation? Sounds like a job for the SWAT team.)
We heard from vice-presidents and chancellors and assistant attorneys general. And when Karen Strickland, who represents 1000 faculty as union president, requested time to speak, she was told to shut up and apologize! Magnificent! That’s how you do it.
The coup de grace was a gut-wrenching viewing of a Q13 FOX broadcast (“We report. You decide!”) about a lurid “alleged attempted sexual assault” in the squalid Occupy encampment. Occupiers tell me that the strange girl stumbled up to the camp—drunk, ruffied, incoherent and already half-naked—and they brought her in to the camp to get her off the street. If so, that sure was a dumb idea!
A lot has been made of the “educational” opportunities Occupy offers. For sure, classes are abuzz and people are talking. A lot. About the profound undermining of publicly funded higher education. About the grotesque and rapidly widening income gap in this country. About a financial system that is sinking the middle class. About soaring lines at food banks and people cut off from basic medical and dental care. About whether our future has to look like the past.
I could go on and on.
“Education”? Honestly. Think this is going to help our graduates score jobs or claw their way up the corporate ladder? Give me a break. Far better they learn how to get things done. Let our administration show ‘em how.
Faculty, Dept. of English