Yesterday, Schewe Library was the site of a student protest. Approximately 150 students flooded the Library — many carrying signs and placards — to protest the addition of a “textbook fee” onto their tuition. The forthcoming textbook fee will provide each student with the textbooks and course materials necessary for their studies, but at a cost of approximately $300 per student, per semester. The proposed program was unpopular with students, and they chose one of IC’s tri-annual Board of Trustees meetings to voice their opposition.
Historically, student activism at IC has been modest. In asking around campus, there appear to only have been a handful of student protests in the last 50 or so years. Though documentary evidence is scant, the following incidents have been corroborated by multiple sources:
- In the 1960s, students protested over the lack of cigarette machines in their dormitories.
- In the 1970s, students protested over the fact that they were mandated to attend Chapel on a weekly basis.
- In the 1980s, students protested over restrictions on campus liquor consumption.
- In the 1990s, students protested over the forced closure of the Gamma Nu literary society.
- And, in the 2010s, students are now protesting over compulsory textbook rentals/purchasing.
Whether this protest will effect changes in IC’s would-be textbook program is unclear. To the best of my knowledge, the program has not yet been approved by the Board of Trustees, and, I suppose, were the Board to sympathize with students’ concerns, they might elect to forestall or revise the plan. But my suspicion is that, at this juncture, the plan is a fait accompli, and the students will come up empty-handed on this particular gambit. On a more harmonious note, however, I suspect Administration will be more willing to consult with students on “big” issues in the future, if for no other reason than to avoid the type of embarrassment they’ve suffered in the past few days over this issue. Here’s to a closer, more productive culture of cooperation at IC!