In the introduction of Tactical Media, Rita Raley writes that we need to engage in the “micropolitics of disruption, intervention, and education” (1). This idea could form the basis of a composition course based in critical pedagogy and informed by the electronic activism she discusses. Including the new web-based visualization tools she discusses would appeal to the current college-aged student, one who is most likely an avid user of Facebook, gaming formats, and other web 2.0 tools, one who highly values electronic information and formats, and one who tends more toward activism (if the reports of millennial students hold true). By grounding the course in social activism, the student becomes more involved with the subject matter, which in turn possibly leads to better grades and better retention. Introducing students to the persuasive games [ Raley page 8] would allow them to study the rhetoric of the game as well as the rhetorical and societal implications of electronic activism. By engaging the activism and then creating his or her own game (or maybe a storyboard version if the computer skills aren’t available) for their chosen bit of activism, then they will be entering the conversation of activism. This environment provides the foundation for the kind of deep learning that may lead to personal change—the paradigm for deep learning as described in Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do (Harvard 2004). One specific topic I would enjoy facilitating would be the DoEAT movement (chapter 2) concerning immigration. This issue frequently polarizes my students at TCC NW—they are either adamantly opposed to illegal immigration and like to hold diatribes a la Fox News or they are personally connected to immigrants due to our high Hispanic population. By focusing on this topic and analyzing the electronic rhetoric, students may be able to turn this emotional issue into a logical one, thus moving toward creating a community that engages in civil discussions and activism instead of the knee-jerk, polemical discourse that might normally be their outlet.
I encounter 99 Percenters at the extreme end of the scale every day in my classrooms at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus. They are the people who, whether they acknowledge or actively associate with Occupy, form the basis of the Movement: all of my students are economically conservative, many live below the poverty level—whether it is temporary or long-term—and they struggle with making their monthly payments as well as buying tuition and textbooks. The frustration of this powerlessness is, for many, a part of their identity and a part of their motivation for upgrading their status.
Many see education as a way to gain more control over their lives, but university costs are prohibitive, and sometimes access to 4-year schools is denied due to low grades in high school and poor ACT/SAT scores. The community college offers true alternatives for the 99 percent to change their status, gain the education/diplomas/certificates they need to be upwardly mobile, take care of their families’ needs, and find satisfaction and fulfillment with their contributions to society. The community college system addresses these needs on many fronts, so I propose that my chapter in the anthology examine the community college’s responses on two fronts: first, the actual involvement, reaction, response to the official/unofficial Occupy Movement, and second, their response to the underlying societal and economic motivations for the movement. I will examine in depth the local community college, Tarrant County College, primarily because I am an 18-year employee of the district and know how to find the information I need. I will also examine to a lesser degree the other North Texas community colleges’ responses to Occupy, then the state community colleges, then the nation’s community colleges. I expect to find trends related to region and urban/rural locations. My research will involve interviews with college employees, published information found through Google searches and other internet avenues, and other processes. My findings may rely heavily on data, charts, etc. For example, in addressing the community college’s response to the high cost of university tuition, I will provide as evidence the following data from the College for All Texans website:
2011-2012 Tuition rates based on the average costs for dependent students living off campus who enroll in 15 credit hours:
- TCC: $780
- Texas Woman’s Univeristy: $3293.32
- UNT: $4174.55
- UTA: $4439
- Univeristy of Phoenix: $6125
- ITT Technical Institute: $8424
- Texas Wesleyan University: $9880
- Texas Christian University: $16,200
Here is my commentary for readings from 26 January 2012.