Rhodes University "Burns"
Alert guard thwarts Rhodes University arson bid
Wim Pretorius, News24
Grahamstown – The University of Rhodes said that there was an arson attempt at the campus on Thursday morning. (read about - http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/alert-guard-thwarts-rhodes-university-arson-bid-20160512)
The events at Rhodes University remind me of my early teens, when I used to read about the “ mayhem” that was created by university students in European countries.” Students seemed to regularly identify some issue to protest against, burn, destroy and/or create general chaos – requiring intervention by police, military, politicians, et al.
To date, I still fail to understand what justification there can be for such behaviour, especially by individuals aspiring to become and be respected as society’s future “intellectual elite” - leaders in business, politics, research, medicine, arts and sciences, academia and other. Is it really that “impossible” for the State, University Administrators and students to reach consensus on what is appropriately required?
When students succeed in achieving the intended outcomes for their demonstrations, what does that say about the Authorities of the State? Why don’t, or didn’t, these Authorities address the issues raised by the students before the need for demonstrations and chaos? Does this mean that each “wave” of new students has the right to demand change to whatever takes their “fancy” and expect that their demands be met? A rather worrisome and costly idea, I would think.
The problem, however, may lie in something different. That of acting responsibly - taking responsibility. A term and concept grossly misunderstood. In simple terms, we believe that taking responsibility means standing up for, and demanding, change and fighting to achieve such change – be it by students, governments, labor unions, business objectives, intimate relationships, and whatever. Wrong. That is not acting responsibly, that is exercising control and laying blame on circumstances and situations because they do not meet one’s expectations.
Real responsibility entails taking and exercising free choice and not expecting circumstances and situations to be changed so as to meet one’s expectations. In the case of student demonstrations for example, once they have applied and been accepted to attend a University, what gives them the right to later demand that the Institution change itself to satisfy the student’s expectations? No rights. What these student actions really demonstrate is how they blame the Institution if they do not uphold the student’s ideals and demands – besides, what makes them right?
Responsibility is something that needs to be exercised before one moves into action and not as a justification for one’s actions – which is what we always see. Given that no student is forced against his/her will to attend any given Institution, the student should familiarize themselves with the conditions and requirements of the Institution and choose whether or not he/she identifies with these. If they do not, then move on to somewhere else; find another place more aligned with the ideals instead of joining and subsequently initiating chaos and demanding change. If there is no other place, then either institute your own or abide by the rules of the one you decide to join.
Being and taking real responsibility for the choices and actions you take before you take them will result in eliminating all this type of unnecessary violence across all our social structures.