Seize the moment and defend this glorious university

By Dan Fournier
On May 2, 2014

It is hard to believe that graduation is just around the corner. It so very surreal to think that, just four years ago, I was walking across this campus for the first time to go to my first chemistry class. Hurriedly drinking coffee before my 8 a.m. classes seemed like such a chore then, but I cannot describe how much I will ache when I think of how I will miss it. Like so many students, I took many things for granted. I rushed through my week, constantly looking at the clock and waiting for the classes to end and for the weekend to begin. My fellow Wildcats, if there is one piece of advice that I can give you, it is this: Every moment that you have at this glorious university is precious, and you must not waste it. You must live in the moment and appreciate every second that you spend on our beautiful campus. There are hundreds of millions of human beings on this planet that do not have the opportunity to go to college, and you must not squander the amazing opportunity that has been placed before you. Join clubs on campus; take classes that challenge you and are intellectually stimulating; have fun and make friends, but be responsible: Talk to your professors outside of class and build professional relationships: Do what you love, and do it in a way that fosters your own creative development on your terms.

I cannot express enough gratitude to the professors who have helped me grow-whether its chemistry and biology, or philosophy and political science. Every single one of them contributed to my personal growth and creative development in ways that were so profound that I will never be able to repay them. When I published my first book earlier this year-Confessions of the Post-Modern-I listed many of them. However, there are those that I forgot, or those that I did not think impacted me enough to make the cut. Looking back now, I would add every single professor to the list because they've all decided to engage in the noblest of professions-educating the youth and passing on the valuable information that they've acquired over a rich career in both industry and academia.

To all my readersĀ­-and to the editors and dedicated followers that I've gotten over the past several years-I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to write the weekly "From the Left" column in our university's newspaper. You have helped me grow, and I hope that the things that I have said and reported on-be it socialist theory, international affairs, critiques of our Wall Street-controlled economy or issues pertaining to transgender rights and liberation from all oppression-have encouraged you to think about the issues facing our world in ways that you did not think of them before. You have helped me grow and develop by challenging me and my views, and I hope that I've done the same for you. As Jean-Paul Sartre-my political hero who rallied support against Nazi oppression in Vichy France during World War II-said, things gain definition in conflict. When we are challenged, we are forced to reassess our values and the reasons why we hold them, and they are modified or strengthened based upon the ways in which we confront one another. You have all helped me grow as an individual by presenting me with constructive conflict, and I hope that I've done the same for you.

There are so many opportunities for you here at UNH, and you must grab hold of them before these four years slip away from you. I would not be in the position I'm in if it wasn't for all of you: my professors, my dedicated readers, my friends and my family. You are in a similar position-as one semester comes to a close, look to the horizon and see what you can do to prepare for your future. For many, this is the only opportunity for higher education. Do not squander it: Seize every opportunity that comes your way and use them to their fullest so that you can grow into the best person that you can possibly be. 

Having a college degree opens doors in our future, but we do walk through them with cinderblocks chained to our legs. Our opportunities in the future are tainted with debt, and our debt is going to force us to take jobs that we may not want simply because we are desperate for the cash to hand over to the big banks that handed us our high-interest loans four years ago. As Noam Chomsky, the famous professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said several years ago, "students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can't afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy."

UNH is more than just a handful of brick buildings with fancy names: It is a family, a community of diverse humans who, despite the many differences that may separate us socially and financially, will always look out for one another because we have a vested interest in each other's well-being and in the success of our school. As us seniors graduate, the rest of the student body must head the call and rise up, seize the moment, and do what you can to protect our university; protect it from privatization, defend our educators' unions and their rights to collective bargain, and defend its integrity. After all, UNH is not just a collection of buildings: It is us, and it is you, and we have the responsibility to protect and nurture it. Let us not falter at that great responsibility, but rather charge forward, together, and courageously support our school. The future is you, and UNH is in your hands.


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