“Redistribute the GPA” Satire at the University of Michigan

The following write up comes from Graham Kozak about not only their GPA event but the importance of such events. His argument is that campuses, which are typically left-leaning, need an organization with a different perspective to be a part of these political “waves” on campus. Here’s his story. (Note: I made this post for Graham because he’s in the midst of graduation. Congrats!) 

The Big House

If the University of Michigan is any indication, campus agitators adopt a new cause to oppose every few years. The Vietnam Era saw massive anti-draft protests; the nineties witnessed some very public expressions of anti-corporate sentiment; the new millennium was accompanied by concerns over the elimination of affirmative action programs. Pro-Palestine and anti-war protests formed a more or less constant background hum (ending, oddly enough, only when President Obama took office). 

That’s not to say that these protests are anything but noble. In fact, they add some spice to campus life while raising some very valid — and often very serious — issues. Often, however, campus activism is dominated by one perspective:  that of the left.

For that reason, it’s important for libertarian campus leaders to come up with novel, effective activism tactics to get heard. The hot issue these days is inequality:  Inequality of income, inequality of opportunity…inequality of pretty much anything, really. If you need a more thorough list, ask your local Occupiers. Concerns over inequality, whether legitimate or not, gives libertarian groups new opportunities to speak out and inform students about the free market — and satiric “Redistribute GPA” events like YAL’s “Occupy the Honor Roll” this April attract the attention necessary to make our voices heard.

Are Redistribute GPA events effective? Well, as with any campus event, effectiveness is subjective. If your group is looking for on-the-spot conversions from mini-Elizabeth Warrens to crusaders for liberty, expect disappointment. If you’re satisfied to challenge students’ beliefs on inequality and redistribution and force them to at least consider the injustice of zero-sum, spread-the-wealth policies, you’re in luck. 

A typical would-be Occupier might not get the connection between GPA redistribution and income inequality, at first. But if they’re interested enough to stick around and discuss the matter (hopefully with some passion — it’s more fun that way!) you’ll at least have a chance to give them a new point of view. Along the way, you’ll have to make some pretty strong arguments in defense of individualism, property rights, and free markets. After all, as they say, a hungry belly can’t wait — and it’s true that redistributing wealth (which, in theory at least, goes to nourish the starving women and children that are apparently cast aside by unregulated capitalism) is not quite the same as redistributing college GPA.

Yet the principles behind them are the same. Should society — or one’s professor — have the right to redistribute the the product of one’s labor for the sake of social justice? It might be an easy question to answer in the abstract, especially when it’s the greedy rich versus Warren Buffett’s secretary. A good protest, however, takes the abstract and makes it tangible. 

That’s what a Redistribute GPA event can do when correctly implemented, and that’s why it’s a great way for student groups to make waves on campus.

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