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Section Header
Protesting budgets with a side of fries

Illustration by Cody Angell
By Jason Winsky
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday December 6, 2002

Things on our campus have changed over the past couple of years. We've built a new bookstore, a new union (almost) and a giant underground classroom/learning center. We are slowly replacing the things of old on our campus with newer buildings and technology. Gone is the old red brick, replaced by smooth, white plaster. Gone is the old McDonald's in the student union, replaced with, well, a new McDonald's.

Some things, however, will be missed more than others. Certainly, those who remember the UA of a few years ago will be nostalgic for the times when a budgetary crisis was the last thing on administrators' minds and the beautiful sorority girls were free to roam and graze on the green grass of the UA Mall at will.

Then a man in a dark suit came along, tore up the mall and took the free-range girls and locked them up on First Street in pens where they can't even turn around. Then he told us we would have to pay double the tuition to attend UA. These are the changes that the older students on the campus notice.

Besides money, there's one other thing that's been missing from our campus in the last year or two. It's the spirit of protest. Other than some recent protests about the possibility of an upcoming war in Iraq (which no one gives a damn about), the UA has been missing the loud-mouthed, braided-hair, guitar-strumming, sign-waving protests of the old days. Gone are the demonstrations that made the cops nervous and the students late to class.
Jason Winsky

Probably the most vocal center of these protests used to be the Students Against Sweatshops (SAS). Many might remember a few years ago attempting to enter the Administration building, only to find a SAS member U-locked to the doors. Ah, there's nothing quite like interfering with an educational institution in the morning.

This year, however, SAS has stumbled and fallen. Some of the causes of the disintegration of SAS (as reported in Tuesday's Wildcat, "Sweatshop activists are losing steam") were sporadic meeting times, a reduced membership and "internal strife." Apparently (get this), female members of SAS went on "protest" for being given a "disproportionate" amount of the group's work. Which begs the question: What work is there to be done in a group like SAS?

Perhaps SAS itself has become a sweatshop. Picture it: female members of SAS chained to each other all day, forced to make posters with magic markers and not given the proper masks to avoid the toxic fumes, while others are fanning the male members with palm fronds.

Besides splintering from within, SAS has always had problems with its message. The group, at least for the past few years, has had the complicated stance of being against the UA administration's alliance with the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Essentially, SAS members attempted to argue that the administration shouldn't be associated with the FLA because it didn't do its job. To those of us passing by on the Mall, the message was just lost.

In any event, students and the administration have much bigger issues on their plates this year. Most people are not going to want to get involved in a sweatshop movement before an anti-tuition increase or anti-war movement.

So what's the solution for the beleaguered SAS? Kids these days, younger than ever, have found a new way to protest: lawsuits. Several children in New York, for example, have recently sued McDonald's for making them fat. Of course, some of these kids, in order to bolster their lawsuit, aren't just overweight.

They're what Kevin Spacey in the movie "The Usual Suspects" describes as "orca fat."

So what is SAS to do? Simple. They can change their name from Students Against Sweatshops to Students Against Sweatpants (same catchy acronym). Then they can all eat McDonald's every day until they get overweight and sue, solving the UA budget crisis. During the trial, they could protest outside of our local McDonald's in the union.

It's sad but true; everything can't always stay the same. And if there's anything for anyone to learn in this country, it's that there's always someone else to blame for your problems. SAS just hasn't found their right person to blame yet. Protesting the administration worked for a while, but then it lost steam.

It's time for SAS to step up into the big leagues and into some sweatpants.


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