11.16.2008

Water Monopoly! (or Where is Teddy Roosevelt When People Need Him?)

Students in the dorms don’t have clean drinking water or the ability to boil water for drinking. The result is the need for a water cooler and large water bottle delivery – a convenience now provided with a smile by the school. In the past students ordered water from off campus and it was delivered by the company. Someone at the school realized that the school could buy up the water, hold it, and deliver it to students at a higher price. People started calling the water company to have it delivered directly, rather than relying upon the school. The water company was met with resistance at the school gate, however, and was turned away. Since the school controls what goes in or out of the gate, they simply hold the needed resource until the students are forced to comply.

Many students realized what was happening, and they were very unhappy. So unhappy, in fact, that they called a reporter to report what was happening in the school. The outcome was grim. After meeting with a school leader the reporter told the students that nothing could be done. One student explained, “To my surprised, it is a socialist country, it serves the community? If I have a second change I don't choose to born here like the country.” These students are the very same who are caught between a fierce nationalist pride and a profound confusion at the policies of their own school. They understand that there are injustices, but the authorities here deflect most of this in a fairly creative way: “But look at all of the problems with this place or that place. Focus on this other incident. Look what happened over there!”

When this isn’t sufficient there is always the ability to simply not care about the students. After all, the students here have no idea what it means to protest. They don’t feel their egalitarian souls being stolen by someone stronger than they are. They have never tasted liberty on the same level as we have, and they haven’t been raised in a culture of protest, demanding equal rights, and fighting for principle alone. Despite living in a collectivist society, students, and people in general, are unaccustomed to fighting for what they see as an ultimately futile cause. There is also a lack of creativity. Despite having the foresight to call a reporter, they had no backup plan or understanding of the power that they possess.

As a volunteer here I am completely uninvolved in this process. It’s important that I don’t concern myself with these issues, specifically due to the rules governing my conduct here. Despite these restrictions, however, I am free to share what is happening here. So there you have it.

24 comments:

Cytoworld said...

The Chinese that came to the States to build the railroad,never got sick from the water, they always drank tea. I assume that most people in China still consume vast amount of hot tea.

Dustin said...

They do, but the students have no access to boil their own water. They can't drink tea in the dorms without hot water.

Phil Razem said...

love this entry, dustin...

I have experienced similiar injustices at my school, but not in relation to such a basic necessity as drinking water. In honor of you and this entry, I will be using this situation in my lessons on debate. I will also be linking this entry (and soon, your entire blog) to mine...

And just curious, why NOT intervene? At this point, what does it matter? Just an idea...you could give your students a lesson they will never forget! ;-) But that's me being pugnacious, as usual...

we will chat more at IST


Phil

Dustin said...

Phil,

Whenever I talk to you I feel smarter. I even had to look up the word pugnacious.

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