In our previous issue, we highlighted different activist groups throughout Queens College. Considering the college’s rich history with activism, it showed a bright candle of energy can still exist in a dark room of apathy.
Students Organization for Democratic Alternatives is an excellent example of this with their idea of participatory budgeting.
Participatory budgeting allows for students to choose what ideas they want to proposal, similar to the Your Priorities model created by Icelandic activists, which even the American-led media outlet The District Sentinel Co-op adopted.
Much praise must be given to SODA for pitching this idea during election season as students are not hounded by parties pressuring them to vote. Rather, students can list their grievances on campus and potentially participate in a highly democratic process.
It is also politically smart to do it in front of the parties as students would prefer learning participatory budget instead of whether they voted for X or Y. Unexpected tactics, like at Occupy Wall Street, work incredibly well in pressuring structures of authority.
In spite of the cuts QC and other CUNY schools suffered over the past two decades, it is a perfect opportunity for students to choose projects necessary to carry out.
Moreover, this idea is still new even at colleges. Brooklyn College adopted it in 2012 and was the first university across the nation to do so. Perhaps it is time CUNY leads the way with a new democratic initiative.
CUNY is viewed as a place where its students come from mostly working-class households. It is a reason why tuition is unpopular among the student body, it’s a tax on the working class. This tax, notably, by a state government and a governor who never attended a CUNY school before.
It may feel hopeless in front of a bureaucratic machine struggling because of a larger, inept one at Albany. But what better way to bolster confidence in students than participatory budgeting? The wonders beyond such an idea are incredible.
We invite readers to support such an initiative and talk to their student government representatives and college administrators about it.
Additionally, we invite readers to send their suggestions on ideas they would like to see happen. Democracy, after all, is the rule of the people.