At noon on Tuesday, Emory students and staff opposed to department cuts assembled on the Quad in protest. I remained in my Latin American History class. We were learning about University students engaged in guerilla warfare to overthrow an oppressive regime in Cuba. I did “walk out” in spirit, by following the events on Twitter. This is called meta-journalism. Meta journalism is not journalism. It is lazy.
For adults who do not understand Twitter, a username begins with the “@” sign. For instance, I am @ajartis – it’s like an email address. You can “tweet at” someone, meaning your statement, though public, either addresses or responds to another twitter user. For instance, after the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court @ObamaCare tweeted at @JohnBoehnerHouse, “drinking your salty conservative tears.” The symbol “#” means that the “tweet” or twitter statement is related to whatever follows the “#”. For instance, if a tweet said, “I’m about to chow down” followed by “#McDonalds” it would suggest the tweeter, or writer, is obese.
The day began with a tweet in all caps. All caps signifies importance. It does not suggest hyperbole. I do not know who writes for the @EmoryCuts Twitter, because I am not a journalist, but she is not afraid to use caps-lock to demonstrate the gravitas of the moment.
As the walkout began, @JobsWithJustice tweeted about it to all the black organizations, including Emory’s Black Student Alliance, NAACP, and the black magazine. I recognize that we, the blacks, have a rich history of civil disobedience and protest movements, but who said we were going to this? It should go without saying, but just because someone is protesting using a march, sit-in/walk-out, civil disobedience or a rousing speech about dreams and/or Plymouth Rock, it does not mean the black community has anything to do with it. Perhaps we were invited because these cuts disproportionately affect minority students, but it’s an open secret that if you’re black at Emory, you’re either in pre-med or sociology.
The Twitter account @AJCcollee questioned how many students would be in attendance. @EmoryCuts responded with trademark caps-lock, “HUNDREDS our community is MOBILIZED.” @EmoryCuts is still awaiting attendance numbers.
Len Cassamas tweeted, “At the age of 53, I am attending my 1st protest.” According to the math, he was 12 when Vietnam ended. Better late than never.
The Wheel reported that “many national and local” news outlets attended, but it should have read “national and many local” news outlets attended. The Associated Press (AP) showed up. But the AP always shows up. When the AP is the only national news outlet to show up at your protest, it’s like getting just one member from the first string basketball team to show up at your sweet sixteen. It’s cool, but it’s not CNN.
As my professor lectured on Cuban university students’ ill-fated attack on an army garrison, @EmoryCuts tweeted, “Students and Faculty are Occupying the Administration Building – Fox Helicopter gets footage as they go in.” I imagined a large group of students charging the administration building, screaming, with Wagner watching out his window from above, face impassive, growling, “So… it begins.” In my imagination, he is also Emperor Palpatine. Dean Forman is the Trade Federation Viceroy.
As the day wore on, I followed the protest in International Politics. According to @EmoryCuts, “Emory VP Gary Hauk shoves a female protestor half his size, tries to deny access to hallway.” But, according to the Emory Wheel’s twitter, “Emory VP Gary Hauk denied to protestors any allegations of him ‘shoving a female protestor.'” Subjectivity and objectivity on Twitter as it relates to facts and fact-checking in journalism would have been a fantastic scholarly article.
A Twitter account called “Emory Greek” replied to the accusations of Vice President Hauk pushing a girl half his size:
“Hauk is 5’8 at best. What is this, a protest for ants?”
Upset that no one noticed, Emory Greek added, “Saying [Vice-President] hauk pushed a little girl is like saying the Buddha led a mass genocide.”
“That makes sense! Frats definitely represent the moral and intellectual compass of our generation.”
Emory Greek quoted another tweet from @EmoryCuts — “Emory admins are threatening to arrest protestors” — and replied, “Pray to god they do.”
@EmoryCuts did not respond.
Emory Greek, in need of attention, then said, “@EmoryCuts has refused to answer to my questions. until they do, I will occupy their occupation #notransparency.”
@EmoryCuts asked, “What questions?”
Emory Greek replied, “‘What questions?’ firstly, why haven’t you been arrested yet? doesn’t that mean you’re doing it wrong?”
This happened. There was no response because, according to @EmoryCuts, “Police have entered the building and are securing all the doors.”
Cory Lumpenprole tweeted, “at nearly the same time cops reportedly secured bldgs against #emorycuts occupation, @EmoryUniversity Instagrams a scene of campus bliss.”
In International Politics, we discussed collective action problems, and the inabilities of large organizations to make decisions. The Emory Wheel’s Twitter reported, “Protesters have ordered in pizza. They are expecting to occupy the hallway until a resolution is met.”
I wonder what kind of pizza it was? Dominoes would be an obvious choice, but many in this crowd might wish to “support local business” and order from Everybody’s Pizza. I was afraid the vegans might protest against cheese. But then what would they occupy? Likely the restroom.
Meanwhile, in Urban Public Policy, a student gave a presentation on Parking Lots. Back in the administration building, events escalated.
“6 protestors have been in President Wagner’s office for the last hour to discuss the dept. changes,” the Emory Wheel tweeted.
If he capitulates now, will that energize other protesters? Will occupations become commonplace in our administration buildings?
“Who’s occupying us now?” I imagine a portly lady in a pink frock asking.
“Oh,” another lady, slimmer, but clearly married, would casually reply, “Those are the Gingers Against Hair Color Discrimination.” And the administrators would go about their business, stepping over tents, discarded pizza boxes, and dog-eared copies of Atlas Shrugged.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Emory, it’s that our best trait is our cold, unfeeling efficiency. Emory bulldozed all our traditions in a single-minded, fanatic drive to the top of the charts. And it worked. So goodbye real Wonderful Wednesday, goodbye Dentistry school, goodbye Visual Arts. Cold-blooded cutting is the last of Emory’s traditions, and by God we should respect it.
As I left class to eat at Cox Hall, the Emory Wheel tweeted, “President Wagner just came out of the meeting. The protestors got excited. He just needed to use the bathroom.”
So this week I learned a very valuable lesson: Protester is spelled with an ‘e’.
– Contact A.J. Artis