Declaration of Rights of Students
A Declaration of the Rights of Students to the Uber Chancellor Supreme
Acknowledging that there is one governor above us, we the students put before his attention and the attention of all a list of complaints, which should, being rational and true, secure a place of prominence in the mind of any man, who calls himself a rational being. This Declaration casts no blame, nor proposes injury; its purpose is only to draw attention to the God-given, natural, and inalienable rights of students. For a student is no less a man than any other -- and for students to be viewed as something less than equal to any other living member of the human race is nothing but an abuse of reason, and an abuse of justice. In justice' sake, in equality's sake, and out of a fraternal bond that separates us not but links us all together in this worldwide struggle for life, liberty, and justice, we give to you, Uber Chancellor Supreme, this reminder of the fact that all students are members of mankind -- and that no member of mankind should forget that:
1. Smoking is not a crime. Yes, some people find it an offensive habit -- but smokers have for some time allowed for this personal qualm. By removing themselves to a separate sphere of the campus -- where non-smokers do not have to travel -- smokers can engage in that timeless exercise, sanctioned by centuries. To suggest that smoking should be banned from an entire campus is to suggest not only something unnatural but also something detrimental. For it is not second-hand smoke that can be the concern -- since second-hand smoke will be separate from those who do not wish to breathe it; the concern, then, must be to extinguish that love of smoking from the human breast of students who have it. Such an act is nothing short of tyranny -- for a man may have many loves, but no man can say which is better. Even if it can be proven that smoking is harmful and ought not be partaken of, we must remember what Ben Franklin taught us in 1775: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" (The Quotable Franklin). What Franklin means is simply this: liberty is essential to the human spirit -- and to sacrifice it, in this case the liberty to smoke -- albeit in a quarantined area -- must not ever be sacrificed for the presumed safety of a few. A nation founded on liberty will not stand when its liberties are taken away.
2. Gruel and corn hash are not sufficient food supplies for any man, let alone students, who require a wide away of nutrients for many reasons, such as: a) students are of an age wherein their bodies are growing and developing and trying to reach their fullest potential; to limit the body to such empty-of-nutrition food items as gruel and corn hash will seriously deflect the body's natural inclination to become strong; b) not only that but to engage in the kind of intellectual activity so rigorously demanded of a university such as this one, students must have resource to the most basic food supplies -- particularly the five basic food groups, that is: meat, vegetables, breads, dairy -- and sugar; yes, sugar. Oftentimes, a nice can of Mountain Dew before an exam is just what is needed to stimulate the brain to go that extra mile, to endure that last question. Serving only gruel and corn hash is an ineffective way to prolong the body's activities -- and a sure way to limit the mind's capabilities. Thomas Paine makes very clear in The Rights of Man that to forcibly deny or limit that which is good is an unacceptable abuse: "When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor...
For the sake of honor and happiness, what is good for men and students alike must be pursued.
3. Which brings us to the third point -- and that is: to arbitrarily dismiss so much as more than half the working faculty and nearly all its support infrastructure not only demonstrates an incredible lack of foresight but also a vastly unappreciative view of what that faculty and infrastructure provide for the student body. A university operates much like a family. To remove the mother or the father in any family is a detriment. To take away brothers or sisters is a detriment. To dismiss grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins is to hack away the limbs of the one child who is left -- how will he fend for himself? He cannot. A family unit needs a head -- that is you, Uber Chancellor Supreme -- but it also requires a mother; but the children must not be ignored -- and they are the students. A student body is like a democratic body in that it will voice its opinions in a manner that is for the common good of all. But to treat it brutally by taking away all its supports is inhumane. As Mary Wollstonecraft has said in A Vindication of the Rights of Man: "A brutal attachment to children has appeared most conspicuous in parents who have treated them like slaves, and demanded due homage for all the property they transferred to them, during their lives. It has led them to force their children to break the most sacred ties; to do violence to a natural impulse, and run into legal prostitution to increase wealth or shun poverty" (Damrosch 79). Is it the will of the Uber Chancellor Supreme to run his children into the prostitution of education that is surely none other than the use anonymous Internet services? When an entire faculty is eliminated, what else can a student do?
4. Which brings us to our fourth and final point: the pursuance of academic excellence in the chosen field of a student's own wishing is an inalienable right not to be taken away arbitrarily. Education is not a yoke that should be laid upon the shoulders of mankind -- it is rather a facility to the experience and determination of men and women: it helps, guides, fashions, enlightens, elevates, instructs and steers its followers to acquire that which every man wishes to acquire: life, liberty, justice. Education provides the means to acquire what man desires. To take away a student's avenue to education -- to the degree he seeks -- is to take away his opportunity to fulfill his most basic human instinct -- which is enlightenment. A degree in Humane Letters may be perfect for some, but it cannot be perfect for all. Others are given talents by God that must be trained in different schools: some are made to be doctors, others lawyers, others scientists, others businessmen, others writers, others musicians, others craftsmen, others laborers. But tell me how are all these different occupations to be filled when one is only provided an outlet to a degree in Humane Letters? Simply put, they cannot be. As Edmund Burke says, "Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure -- but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a…
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