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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The students! United! Will Forever Be Retweeted!

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Oh, you've done it now, Mayor Ravenstahl. You have awoken the sleeping -- or perhaps hungover -- giant. In response to the mayor's 1 percent tuition tax, students have launched their own Facebook page

The Facebook group -- called Pittsburgh College Students Against the Tax on College Students -- already has 137 members. Which ain't bad for starters. (UPDATE: By day's end, the number of members was nearly twice that. And there's another Facebook group -- Students Against the Proposed Pittsburgh Tuition Tax -- dedicated to the same cause.)

I'm a bit skeptical about internet activism, to be honest, and one wishes a Web site authored by college students didn't include verbage like "If thats there soul reasoning ..." But maybe there is potential for this to grow into something more. As Ravenstahl pointed out when he first proposed the tax, Pittsburgh is a city of just over 300,000 people -- with nearly 100,000 students enrolled in its institutions of higher-learning. That's a lot of potential activists. 

Plus, as I've written before, the Oakland area was the site of what could be the first crowd-sourced citizen-journalist project in Pittsburgh history. College students with digital cameras helped document G-20-related demonstrations, and the police reaction to them. Obviously tax policy is much less photogenic, but students really could create their own campaign here. And who knows where that might lead? The G-20 footage has spawned investigations into police conduct, and considerable public debate. 

Granted, Bram is probably right that were some folks happy to see students get pushed around during the G-20. And maybe people won't worry too much about a tax on students either. But I'm told that some city councilors have been hearing complaints about this tax from quarters you wouldn't necessarily expect -- including working-class areas where folks are going to night-school. Besides, as I tried to suggest at the end of my column this week ... if students feel like they're getting the shaft by intransigent non-profits and thoughtless city officials, well ... that's how their neighbors have felt for years. You are all Pittsburghers now. Solidarity! 

The students could use a snappier acronym, though. I mean, even highly contagious diseases get better acronyms than PCSATCS. How about Pittsburgh-Area Students Supporting Education and Denouncing Outrageous and Unfair Taxation? 

 

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