State

Jardine: CSUS' students finally riled up?

Boiling mad because Sarah Palin will speak at a California State University, Stanislaus, foundation fund-raiser in June?

Already bought the poster paint for your protest sign?

Working on a sound-bite-ready anti-Sarah chant? (Somebody beat you to the campaign sticker: Sarah Palin 2012/The world's supposed to end anyway.)

All worked up and ready to be heard?

Good.

That is why Palin's scheduled appearance in Turlock next month will be positive for the school, if only because it will rile up students and faculty at a university not exactly known for its political activism. In fact, most elections -- presidential and gubernatorial -- come and go without so much as a whimper on the Turlock campus.

Local party officials long have bemoaned the lack of political activity at the CSUS campus. Seldom during election cycles will you see noontime rallies in the quad, signs around campus or any signs of life in regard to politics.

The classic example came during the historic recall vote of Gov. Davis in 2003, when he was ousted and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The vote went largely unnoticed at CSU, Stanislaus, where there were no speeches on the quad and only one sign on campus that read, "Oct. 7 Vote."

When the economy was good and education was more affordable, students basically ignored state and national politics that ultimately affect things such as college tuition and fees. They admittedly took a "me first" approach to life in general, and that didn't include public political debate.

But there are inklings of activism on campus. In 2006, a group of students met on the quad to protest immigration reform legislation. And with rising fees and tuition costs, politics are affecting them personally.

In early March, some CSUS students joined in the statewide Day of Action, protesting budget cuts to education by walking out of their classes and attending a rally in the quad.

A campus group called Warriors Fight Back created a Facebook page that includes information and forums for comment as well as the group's mission statement:

"CSU, Stanislaus, students are tired of the budget cuts, the fee hikes, & the inept administration leading our campus into disaster! We urge all Stan State students, workers, and faculty to come together and fight for our right to public education."

The group also held an "emergency meeting" to "Keep Sarah Palin out of Stan State" in March with another meeting scheduled April 14.

So, if Palin's appearance becomes a burr in the buttocks, shatters their comfort zone and compels them to exercise their First Amendment rights -- and coming back to do so while the university is on summer break -- I see that as a good thing.

Granted, a handful of people won't stop the controversial former vice presidential candidate from coming to Turlock. Money always has a louder public address system.

Palin reportedly receives $100,000 for a speech. At that price, the foundation would need to sell 200 tickets at $500 a ticket to cover her fee. Doable in the conservative valley?

You betcha.

Word is, so many tickets were sold so fast that extra seats are being added.

If folks are willing to shell out $500 a plate to listen to someone who brings little more to the debate than snarky criticisms and boorish catchphrases -- name one intelligent or innovative idea Palin has offered toward fixing any problem facing this nation -- it's their money.

It's also the right of those who dislike her to make their feelings known, and what better time to rise up and become engaged in the political process than when you're in college?

If her visit generates peaceful protests at CSU, Stanislaus, consider it evidence of a collective student political pulse that otherwise never existed or, at best, was barely detectable.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com.

  Comments