Our Enigma and Its Solution: An Ideological Criticism of the Student Body at Spokane Community College

Christopher Martin I Social Movement Studies I Theory I July 12th, 2016

The Otherness of Law

Nearly everyone wants to become a complete person without any lacks. If a person psychologically develops smoothly and does not experience mental disturbances, then all the better. This goal is achieved and that person becomes a whole individual, flourishing in life. The truth of the matter is no one develops through life without running into intra- or inter-personal conflicts. A conflict simply put is a contradiction in needs or values. Should these conflicts persist unresolved, they will impoverish the personality and pull us into the despair of life.

To make matters worse, when a mass of people come together and exchange relations, the pathologies (i.e. mental, social, or linguistic abnormalities or malfunctions) individually, but unconsciously, experienced in social relations are reflected in the institutional procedures and its historical development. Unresolved conflicts in relationships perpetuate pathologies in social personalities.

Our student body, herein called étudiants, i.e. is a class of students within the modern capitalist economy, is lost in an intra- and interpersonal conflict.

Simply put, the studentry is determined by the government, who manifests via the administration. The Board of Trustees is the giver and determiner of what degrees, programs, certificates, activities, etc. are provided at the college. Therefore, the Board of Trustees determines the qualitative nature of the student mass. Without a determinate Self to identity and participate with(in), multiple pathologies develop in social relations as the institution develops historically.

This disturbance in our institutional relation is the perpetuator of the pathologies of border line personality disorders and narcissism. First, there is a disturbance in relation to the student's own Self. The rapid flux of students entering and exiting the intuition accounts for the feeling of an unstable sense of Self. Our dependence on the Board of Trustees is the source of a distorted sense of Self. When a person become a student and cannot find their means of succeeding in their program, they may consider committing suicide, i.e. quitting being a student altogether. The stress from classes will perpetuate stress-related paranoia.

Student engagement has decreased dramatically. Graduation and transfer rates are low: ~30% and ~20% respectively. Clubs are increasingly being defunded to this disengagement from each other.

Pathological narcissists hide behind a "grandiose self" structure "seen as a core patterning of self-other representation designed to protect the illusion of self-sufficiency at all costs, because in pathological narcissism it is also disguising the individual's lack of a fully individuated identity." [1] Students are not efficient enough to be students individually. Students who do not study with each other do not have the opportunity to be inspired to continue being a student. The workload becomes overwhelming, and the student further isolates themselves, threatening success. Acting individually based on the illusion of self-sufficiency is a perpetuator of our narcissism; however, our narcissism comes from a greater source.

The fall of social-political revolutions of the 1960s succumbed to spiritual cults and "self-help" of the 70s. The self-help narcissism developed into a rejection of an Other in the 80's totalitarian anti-totalitarianism. Afterwards, with the emergence of the Internet, the masses identified with it, creating a false self within the various communities of the Internet. With the introduction of the new century, liberalism collapsed into itself: politically with the collapse of the Twin Towers, and economically, seven years later.

With a decaying confidence in itself, the Western proletariat lost its substantial Self, collapsing into Another Self. The breaking down of a substantial centralized, national Self is what pushed for the decline of political activism, for to engage with an Other, there must be a kind of Self, and since the West has lost its substantial Self, it cannot engage with its Other, I.e. the bourgeois.

As described by Alain Badiou, a contemporary Parisian philosopher, in his In Praise of Love, he sets out to find the historic definition of love hitherto, then sets to redefine it. He explains, in the social-political revolutions of the 60s, radicals put love in politics, where an Other must exists. The issue here, is that love cannot destroy the Other, which is the sole task of politics. Now, adding to this equation, a shift occurred at the failure of loving the Other. A love for Self developed, and eventually the collective lost themselves in it with the denial of the Other…

When the Community Colleges of Spokane was created, it was meant to calm conflicts by uniting the institutions (Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College) in a common direction; however, this only caused more problems. The problem, here, was not solely between the colleges, but rather between the étudiants and the college's operator itself: the Governor of Washington and his Board of Trustees.

The Governor's domination on the development of social personalities on the étudiants infringes on the students ability to be independent. They are not allowed to develop as themselves, for themselves, but rather always being bound by their parent/Other (the government, or specifically Law-in-general). This domination of an Other as Self is the procedure which perpetuates our pathologies at CCS.

Presented herein is the development of student personality from Law, and a method of escaping our rotting conditions.

Development of étudiants from Law

To borrow the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek's contributions made within his essay A Framed Frame, found in his 2015 piece, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism, we can infer the content which is determined by the framework simultaneously determines the framework by accepting the frameworks influence on the content.

To interpret this in a meaningful context, our administration accepts the rules mandated by the Governor, the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, and the federal/legislative government. By accepting these rules, the administration binds itself to Law and acts in its behalf.

Once the framework of the administration is developed, it can be implemented with the development of a Self which adopts and implements administrative procedures carried out by board policies. When the Other in the content is formed, a Self in the content can emerge which has the characteristics being Studentry.

The framework contains one thing, however, existing in as a multiplicity: the Law and the administration (or Law-in-General). The content contains two things: the administration and the Studentry. Therefore, the administration is the mediator of the government and the people who constitute the student mass.

In order to fully understand the nature of these relationships, we must work out the dialectics of their emergence. We will begin with the Other, as it determines the Self in development of an individual psychology.

As it is mandated by 1.10.01 Board of Trustees Policies, the Governor appoints the Board of Trustees. From there, the Governor's authority is negated by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees becomes our Other (as it is determined by the Governor) with this formally established sovereignty over the district. The Board of Trustees is the Other in the content, as it negates the will of the Law. Thus it is bound to the framework of Law, from which the content can further develop.

Once an Other is secure within the administration, a Self within the administration can begin to develop. The Board of Trustees are given the privilege to delegate administrative authority to a Chancellor. Once the Chancellor is determined and the Other's authority is negated, this person is permitted to become the Mask Over the Other (a false Self), as it is the Chancellor who adopts and implements administrative procedures to carry out board policies. The Chancellor is the Self, as it has the freedom to self-engage as well as other-engage, however bound to the Other (Law) it is.

Here are the conditions from which the administration develops: the Governor and Board of Trustees are the Other within the administration (as it is determined from without the administration) and the Chancellor is the Self within the administration. The framework enters the content and the content accepts the framework's determining will, thus allowing it to move the content accordingly. When the body of the administration is matured it begins preforming it's duty, i.e. it begins to make laws to govern its district and their subjects in order to condition the student to meet local economic needs.

There exists a multiplicity within Law-in-general who is the Other to the étudiants. The regime determined by and implemented by the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor is herein defined as concrete Law which are applied by the institution on the institution. All other laws imposed on the institution by the federal and State legislation are herein defined as abstract Law, it is the abstract framework which imposes itself on the concrete Law.

Now that the nature of the administration's Self and Purpose is understood, we may begin to clarify the nature and Purpose of the students attending the Community Colleges of Spokane. To do this, we must examine the relationship between the étudiants and Law-in-general.

As the administration develops and becomes contained within the framework of abstract Law, the étudiants can begin to develop. As abstract Law permits with RCW 28B.50.0990 (6)(c), the Board of Trustees can develop its own concrete laws in determining where services go as well as degrees, certificates, and programs which will be available to students. Through abstract Law, the administration develops concrete Laws enabling it to develop the qualitative aspect of its étudiants. When abstract and concrete Law is formed, the quality of studentry emerges from the Other. Thus, the Self of the étudiants is its own Other.

Individually, a typical person will become a student as a means to improve their socio-economic conditions. The intention of a student is to graduate or transfer, i.e. gain a degree, a certain set of skills which enables them to get a self-sustaining job in our economy. Currently, the purpose of students is to gain a set of skills to which the local economy or university can utilize the person in a purposeful way. Thus, students are conditioned according to local economic or educational needs.

When the Self of the étudiants is developed, it can begin to engage with itself and the administration. Students came together and decided to build clubs and events, volunteering to impose Services and Activities Fees as a tax on themselves. These programs and services were delegated to ASG by the Board of Trustees only on the basis that ASG works in the direction of the college administration.

This split in self-and-other-relation is the condition from which ASG emerged. Abstract law develops a concrete law. This concrete law continues to develop the quality of students by establishing a set of degrees, certificates, etc. available. From here, the Self of the étudiants emerges as an Other. As the developed étudiants engages with itself and its Other, that is the administration, a gap emerges and student-administrators develop, forming the Associated Student Government. It is through these development where the contradiction of étudiants-administrator emerged.

Towards a Redefinition of étudiants: How étudiants Can Overcome Law

The state is mandated to determine the framework of the Being of the étudiants. Students must exchange relations with themselves and their Other on the Other's terms. The Other builds itself with the étudiants as its base, and they must submit to the State's needs.

A problem here is the illusion of inclusion. Students merely have a voice in the decision making process, it does not have the decision making power itself. The student's voice is weak, therefore, their voice is often looked over within the school's bureaucracy. Thus the decisions are often administer or teacher oriented decisions. For example, despite the winter 2016 3% wage increase, the 2017 S&A budget, due to disengagement, potential budget allocation for all the clubs decreased; however, stipend funds for club advisers increased. The Board of Trustees makes the final decision on where S&A Fees are allocated, binding any Associated Student Government decisions bound to the Will of Law.

So the appropriate question to pose here is: how can we make the problem of arbitrary state despotism the solution to student oppression? How can we build upon the legacy we inherited from our Other?

Our first move should be to build an authentic Self.

ASG must build a Self for the sake of the collective it represents. No move should be made outside ASG before its Self is defined. The most effective definition of ASG's Self is a radical definition made in defense of the student interests, made by students themselves. The collective must eventually sit together and develop a mission and vision, in a democratic manner, and act upon that vision with the utmost fidelity.

Then, ASG should construct the conditions in which a Self will emerge from today's Othered Self. This relationship to Self must be restored by deconstructing the administrator in our Self. Rather than deconstructing the notion of administrator from the notion of student, thus collapsing into a naive pre-student-administrator notion, it must be radicalized in order to contain yet expand the meaning of étudiant-administrator while being consistent to its collective student identity and its vision (rather than submitting totally to the Law-in-General). Once this radical student is defined and materially supported, then an authentic alternative sense of Self within the étudiants can begin to emerge in the student-body. Only when the horizon of a legitimate alternative Self emerges can the narcissism within the étudiants be confrontment effectively.

The second step is to shift identification from the Other to the Self.

In the process of radicalization of the étudiants, the student subjected by the Board of Trustees ought to be reformed from such to a radical active subject. This radical self is such an individual who entered the contract of being a student at Spokane Community College, yet the person is contained and preserved in the collective student Being.

The power of determining who will sit in the Student Government should be transferred from the bureaucracy, which would otherwise vote itself in, to the students. This will democratize the government, thus beginning Selving the Other in their Self.

To ensure self-determination over other-determination, student should become the substratum of the administration by first Selving ASG, then the administration. Student councils could be created with a collective of self-related students with similar content which will elect an appropriate Senator. For example, a Nursing Student Council, made solely of nursing students, comes together, debate, and determines X will be the Nursing Senator. The point is students vote in their respected Senator who acts as defined by the Council. This will begin the process of shifting power from the beaurocracy to the students. Here, the students become the basis of the Student Government.

The étudiants must gain administrative control of their institution from the government by practicing participatory, direct democracy politically and economically. The rights defined within 1.10.01 Board of Trustees Policies ought to be revoked as it limits our self-determination, and a democratic spirit within the mass should be cultivated. The means to Self the Other is to de-Other it. The Councils can engage their students to collectively vote in who will sit as their Trustees. Here, the students become the basis of the administration, rather than the government.

Prioritize community development over economic development, i.e. Capital. Help business develop to help community needs rather than converting the community to meet business needs. Do this by helping the local poor. Build a facility to house homeless students or local at risk people. This will help to not only provide essential needs to students, but also local at risk peoples. To further engage the local public, the institution can open certain skills focused, or academic focused classes to the public. Here, locals are allowed to participate in the development of the College's Being.

Mandating programs which enforces all students to help the local needy by engaging in service learning, students get to engage to meaningfully engage with locals. Here, are allowed to participate in the development of the County's Being. A Community College connected to their community We must go beyond soothing the symptom of our poverty, and solve the problem itself.

Lastly, the étudiants must build a new macro Self.

To do so, we must challenge the global capitalistic order which perpetuated the problems we face today by co-optizing. Defy globalism by developing a localized economy. Defy capitalism by universalizing the means of production (collective the campus businesses; collective student labor is managed and owned by the student collective).

Where the Governor is the substratum of the administration who is the invisible determiner of our character, the students are the substratum of the Governor who rules the Governor. If we stand together, and demand the Governor to relinquish his rights to infringe on our Self-determination, it will surely succumb.

We must come together, not because we have nothing to lose, rather the very opposite: we must rise for we have everything to lose!

Negate the Other, or be negated by it!


[1] The Mirror and the Mask-On Narcissism and Psychoanalytic Growth. Philip M. Bromberg, Ph.D. Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 1983.