Against violence at all costs and looking for something to do this weekend?
For $85, you can hop on a bus with dozens of pacifists, drive 18-plus hours to Washington, D.C., protest on the Mall, mass outside the White House, and attend a candlelight vigil. Sounds like fun, until one considers how many renditions of “We Shall Overcome” bus riders will endure.
This weekend’s trip was planned by the UW Greens several weeks ago, long before America declared war on terrorists, rallying patriots, and campus pacifists alike.
Before the attacks, the Greens and company were hoping to protest the World Trade Organization’s conference, the same protests marked by violence in Seattle and Italy. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the WTO meeting was cancelled, but the Greens had the foresight not to cancel their planned trip: Apparently, one protest is as good as another.
Truth be told, we have a fair bit of admiration for those willing to pay a substantial amount of money in order to express their views to the nation instead of just the campus — but that’s the problem.
While protest-goers will be paying their own way, the trip was planned by a group that received $23,000 in segregated fees last school year. Much of that money is used to pay the salaries of UW Greens employees — employees who have spent their working hours planning this trip.
Seg fee defenders argue that funding political organizations promotes spirited debate on campus. Student government leaders contend that sponsoring a political atmosphere is as much a service to students as recreational sports, bus passes, and health services.
But while the planning for this week’s trip will certainly further political debate, it furthers that debate at a location far from the eyes and ears of the student body, earning the title of Seg Fee Abuse of the Week.
Our beef this week is not with political groups getting our money. Our concern lies in how those political groups — like the Greens — are using the money: Not to promote ideas on campus, as permitted by the Supreme Court, but to plan a trip sending student activists off campus.