Michigan makes #5 on Mother Jones’ “Top Ten Activist Campuses,” singling out the efforts of Students Supporting Affirmative Action to mobilize students to go to D.C. for the affirmative action lawsuits, and the city’s annual Hash Bash, organized by Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and other area activists. #1? The University of Tehran, for student protests after the Iranian government arrested a dissident professor.

“5. University of Michigan: Since it was Michigan’s admissions policy being reviewed by the court, 16 busloads of students convoyed from Ann Arbor to join Black Tuesday. On a higher note, 4,000 Wolverines rallied in April to protest the nation’s drug war — which this year saw John Ashcroft take time off from Al Qaeda to raid Internet bong distributors and head shops in “Operation Pipe Dreams.” Many who demonstrated smoked up; thanks to Ann Arbor’s progressive pot laws, only one student was arrested for possession.”
(Which isn’t exactly correct: state law applies on the Diag, so getting caught with marijuana is more than a $5 misdemeanor, the city’s 1970s-era ordinance)

And with student government elections coming up, it’s time to start thinking about issues. Last spring, I criticized the University Party for their #4 platform item: Putting a Taco Bell on campus. Ironically, the University of Chicago made #7 on Mother Jones’ list partly because of activists who recently forced a Taco Bell out of their food court because of that company’s abusive labor practices. Last spring, I observed that the University Party’s platform was mostly “superficial changes” designed to appeal to “people for whom bad financial aid, abusive landlords, social justice, etc are not priorities.” The alternative, the “Students First” party was in general much better, but ran at least one conservative candidate – Dustin Lee in the Law School. (Who lost to the UP candidate David Osei.) Perhaps for our mutual edification I’ll conduct a candidate survey on some of the issues for this year’s election, coming up in the end of November. (What should be in party platforms? To get an idea, see my “Argument for a Political Student Government”)

“7. University of Chicago: Taco Bell is the most popular vendor in the U of C’s food court, but campus activists still scored one of the first victories of the national “Boot the Bell” campaign. Because Taco Bell’s tomato suppliers are said to exploit migrant farmworkers, Chicago students lobbied the university to sever ties with the chain. On Halloween, 60 students, many dressed as tomatoes, marched on the administration offices. In November, U of C’s food-services manager declined to renew the Taco Bell contract.”

Author: Rob