Student protesters’ prose spells out a message: they need to spend more time studying English

Alf hesitated before posting this, lest he give an undeserving bunch of whingers in Auckland the oxygen of publicity that they seek.

But he felt compelled to bring to his constituents’ attention the disgraceful sense of entitlement of some modern-day students.

The plonkers have the gall to believe the news media (which have ignored every speech delivered by Alf) should have made a better fist of reporting on their protest antics last week.

Their media statement can be found at Scoop. The staff there seem to have done the students a favour by doing a bit of editing.

But Alf spotted it at Newsroom, apparently in its raw state.

Sorry, but only subscribers can check out the version which Alf first read.

It was not a pretty sight.

Students involved with Friday’s Blockade the Budget protest have expressed concern at the media coverage of the event. Many students have noted a general lack of coverage on why students were protesting, and an unevenness around the reporting of police conduct.

Is that it?

Sad to say, no.

They are wailing about the way they were treated by the cops, too, even though Alf happens to think they should all have been rounded up and banged up for a few nights.

But nah.

Students have condemned the action of police and the use of controversial riot control measures against a peaceful march. Only 5 mins into the march, Police began dragging students from the crowd with choke holds and other .

And other … what???

If the buggers spent a bit more time at their studies, they might learn how to complete a sentence.

Their difficulties with punctuating properly and otherwise coping with the grammatical requirements of good written English are exposed in the next bit of the media statement, too.

Many students have expressed their confusion and anger at the extreme reaction from the Police, post-graduate Sociology student Jarred Marks had this to say, ‘they told us they were there to facilitate the march, but five minutes later they kettled the crowd and started picking us off. The first arrested were made with choke holds. People were crying, young women were howling in pain, it was really awful. At one stage we saw a nine year old boy get shoved into the road by an officer.”

Alf is appalled, as he has said before, about what has happened to the compound adjective in too much modern-day writing.

It has lost its hyphens.

In the text above, hyphens would make plain he is a nine-year-old boy.

The hyphens, alas, won’t tell us what he did to be pushed into the road.

When writers of media statements show shortcomings with their grammar, Alf supposes they have probably short-changed him with their description of what happened, too.

Having sounded this cautionary note about the credibility of the students, let’s check out what they say they saw next.

One of the officers dived into the crowd to punch a young woman.
Even one of the police officers was crying, some of them knew they were doing something terrible. A lot of young students are feeling pretty traumatised. We were protesting for the future of education in our country, but we learned a lot about our government’s desire to criminalise and silence dissent’

But let the record show the students are capable of expressing a modicum of gratitude.

Organisers also expressed their gratitude for the presence of a small number of people from community groups and social justice activists at the demonstration…

But then they return to their discontented default position: they say they

…have been dismayed at the portrayal of these groups as central to the planning of the event. Student activist Rosa Jennings said ‘this was a peaceful protest in which students were subjected to excessive and unlawful violence, the overwhelming majority of people arrested were students, and most of them were simply arrested to stop them from publicly addressing the issues. Community activists turn up to these events to support the cause, because they understand how education is connected to every other social problem, we are always really grateful to them’

Ah. They are admitting to being a selfish bunch who don’t want to share the credit – or discredit – with anyone else.

Post-graduate student Jai Bentley-Payne said ‘some media outlets seem to struggle with the idea that students could initiate something this big themselves, but that is exactly what happened. Students are engaging in new forms of democratic organisation that they are learning from other movements around the world. If anything it is the students everywhere providing the catalyst for struggles at large, not the other way around’

Members of a student activist network, We are The University, expressed similar sentiments.

Henri Carlos, writer for Auckland University student magazine Craccum says ‘we have been doing this for some time now, we were using our own version of consensus before the Occupy movement even reached New Zealand. It is a shame that the mainstream media would rather make up stories about scary socialists than explore a truly fascinating development in contemporary politics’

This pap boils down to an expression of concern from students about the media’s portrayal (inaccurate, they insist) of the protests and the lack of coverage of the issues.

AUT Undergraduate student Cecilia Parks said ‘These protests are against a budget that has no plan for education other than to cut funding and make it harder to access unless you are wealthy. The police attempted to violently shut that conversation down on Friday, and as long as others are ignoring the issues then they are doing the same thing. But this won’t go away because of some dodgy police operation’

No plan for education?

But Alf plainly recalls the Budget speech included the following –

Raising student achievement and improving the tracking of student performance is important for New Zealand and therefore a priority for this Government.

As we have confirmed, the Government is committed to the ambitious goal of 85 per cent of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualifications.

Reaching this goal means resources must be managed to get better results for all students.

And so (among other things) Budget 2012 invests in providing more pathways into work and further training for young people leaving school.

It provides an additional free 3,000 tertiary-based Youth Guarantee places at the cost of $37.7 million over four years.

The students who are kicking up a fuss might usefully read the Budget to see for themselves.

But no, it seems they will be planning further action against the budget instead.

Here’s hoping the media treat it with the same disdain as they did with last week’s shenanigans.

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