Finding Common Ground in a Sea of Negativity

UA students de-iced their windshields before driving to campus at 7:30 this morning. Eager to hop on one of twenty-five shuttles to the Arizona Capitol in protest of the proposed 40% education budget cuts, Wildcats braved the 48 degree Tucson weather and woke up early to vocalize their objections in Phoenix.

Luckily, the Wildcats arrived at the Capitol in high spirits. The temperature was perfect, and ASU and UA students set aside all conflict for a few hours. Students didn’t make time for even friendly rivalry. For once, all three universities depended on each other to speak up.

Before setting foot on the state capitol, UA students practiced their chants and engaged in heated political discussion on the bus.

“[Students’] future doesn’t matter to older voters because they don’t have a future,” one student said, and History junior Samantha Gardner made a similar observation-

“The older voters complain about education taxes, but how are we going to get any smarter?”

“Save our schools, save our state,” students cheered as they marched to the protest, where some yelled with signs of high creativity and shock value.

An unidentifiable UA student held up a poster of a woman “pregnant” with the words “higher education” in her stomach. At her feet was a coat hanger. Among the hundreds of signs waving through the air, this one left a lasting effect on all students, many of which found it comical while I saw it as tasteless and inappropriate despite the drastic circumstances.

Most signs were clever while others got the point across in one four-letter-word: “F*** you, too.”

By 12:15, most students crowded around the stage, jumping and cheering in black t-shirts to Kanye West’s “Stronger” on the intercom. Moments later, the DJ played Will.i.am’s “It’s a New Day,” which is an homage to Barack Obama.

Most of the speakers were vehemently opposed to the proposed budget cuts, so the protest as a whole was made up of thousands of upset students and citizens, uniting together to save the future of Arizona higher education. In spite of the rage and frustration everyone felt, there were no fights, pushing, or shoving among protestors. Before the event ended, a group of NAU students gathered in a circle around the stage and danced.

NAU students didn’t want to leave, even as they were told they had two minutes to get to their buses. As soon as the D.J. stopped playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,” NAU students flocked toward the street, UA students following close behind.

As superficial and vacuous as my fellow classmates sometimes seem, they truly surpassed my expectations at the Capitol today. Of all three Arizona public universities, the UA had the biggest student turnout. Regardless of what happens with the budget cuts, the Arizona Wildcats cheered the loudest and tried their hardest to fight against this absurd proposition.

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