I was kind of swept up into my first student protest in middle school when the whole student body walked out over a plan to allow unlimited strip searches whenever vaguely defined authority suspected drug use. In an act that shows how wonderfully guileless I was in those days I kept careful notes on all the interesting goings-on that I saw and wrote it up as if the student newspaper (for which I wrote about one-eighth the content by volume, as well as edited and did layout) would print it. My future in student protests would run along such similarly successful lines thereafter, particularly in my undergraduate days at a state university where the regular protest groups managed to be, by my eyes, more regular interesting diversions than things that achieved any goal, even when I liked them. (Though come to think of it a protest to get later library hours on the weekends did work.) A crowd of students chanting ``Hey hey, ho ho, budget cuts have got to go''? Fine pastime.
So I was startled and delighted to discover a good-sized student protest held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which I know is the alma mater for a good number of my friends list. The Albany Times-Union reported the crowd at maybe four hundred students (one person on an RPI newsgroup thinks as much as twice that), come to protest a hike in room and board costs, changes in resident assistant qualifications, layoffs of eighty employees, and a recent decision that students should shut up and stop offering comments on university policy. I'm stunned. To get a protest at all out of RPI students, who always struck me as diligent but as prone to activism as glacial moraines are, is astounding.
For the ``but that trick never works'' file, RPI spokesman Jason Gorss warned the Times-Union that they were not welcome on campus for the event and told a reporter, ``if you won't go, they'll take you off the campus''. That's the sort of smooth and gracious handling of the press that's vastly preferable to waiting for the Times-Union to fail this hour's saving throw and go out of business. I don't know what's coming next but I'm almost tempted to put a Google News alert to keep track of things.
Trivia: Powered flight for the launch of Pioneer 10 on 2 March 1972 lasted for seventeen minutes. Source: Pioneer Odyssey, Richard O Fimmel, William Swindell, Eric Burgess. NASA SP-349/396.
Currently Reading: Over Land And Sea: The Dramatic Story of the Great Aviation Pioneer Glenn H Curtiss, Robert Scharff, Walter S Taylor. You know, this is going to be a fine year for centennials of interesting aviation stuff. And yet I've got my doubts about the event mentioned as happening on February 29, 1910.