NPR/Martin do Nascimento/KQED

Protesters: Go home and be the change you want to see

Maybe act locally?

Jeffrey Denny
4 min readMay 9, 2024


Jeffrey Denny

What a cranky, clueless middle-class Boomer moderate Democrat (not me!) might say to today’s elite progressive college campus protesters:

School’s out for summer, went the Alice Cooper Vietnam-era protest anthem. In today’s protest, summer means no more chanting, no more tents, no more chance to Sidechat text.

Whether or not you ruined hard-earned, post-Covid commencements for most students and their families, blew off midterms and finals, tacitly allied as Hamas-symp antisemitic useful fools, learned “river to the sea” is racist genocidal hate speech (that you hate more than anyone), or naively followed professional agitators even though you’re America’s best and brightest, it’s time to pack your keffiyeh, kombucha and REI Trail Hut and head home.

We heard you. Words fail to express our pride in you. We cannot deeply respect whatever you tried to say more.

Many of you are incredibly awesome youth, America’s future, returning home from costly, exclusive 3–5% acceptance Ivy or elite private colleges.

You know, where your $100,000 cost per year was well spent saving Gaza.

So you might be fortunate to not work all summer to pay for inflated rent, groceries and next year’s tuition.

Unlike those tragic working-class, student-debt burdened college kids — many from poor, minority and immigrant families you care about — who grub a degree for a better life from city, state, commuter, community, or top colleges you never heard of, would never consider, and somehow didn’t have protests.

Poor dears, they’re those “cold and timid souls” that white racist Teddy Roosevelt disrespected. Not self-heroes like you who “actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

These apathetic lemmings who don’t hate capitalism that paid for your college and life somehow lacked the time, sense of commitment, rhetoric that trumps reason like a MAGA and enlightened moral outrage to protest.

Yet these non-protestors have the hurtful temerity to do violence to your identity by complaining about the distraction, disruption and stress you created while they tried to study. You were risking your education and life to represent these ingrates!

So maybe just kick back and de-stress at your parents’ pool or Hamptons third home getaway. Self care is important as you struggle with more social media fear, depression, and anxiety about war, inhumanity, apocalypse and coddling parents than any generation in history.

Or, not to pressure you and trigger your anxiety, only if you feel comfortable, you might consider opportunities to keep working for humanity over summer break.

For instance:

Be your chants

Repack your kaffiyeh, kombucha and REI tent and ship off to Gaza to join the relief effort. Beware the real mortal dangers there. Not like facing respectful, low-paid and mostly Black women and men in law enforcement doing their jobs when you decide you’re above the law like Trump.

Act locally

You could’ve done this all school year at the doorstep of your college compounds. Like Harlem outside Columbia, where 29% live below the federal poverty level and suffer all manner of consequences, while 62% of students come from the 20% top-earning families.

The chances to help back home are as many as the needs. Work at a homeless shelter, food bank or meal kitchen. Help a struggling single mom with her life — maybe run errands or childcare for her. Tutor or mentor at-risk kids. Clean up a neglected neighborhood park kids desperately need to play in. Do Habitat for Humanity. Help tenants fight slumlords. Help people register to vote or work through the city bureaucracy to get the help they’re owed. Heck, protest for disadvantaged.

It’s far better to volunteer for community service than to be sentenced to it.

Act really locally

Pressure your parents to divest their assets of any stocks you believe support Israel. After all, their assets produce wealth that’s paying for your college, so in a sense, there’s blood on your hands too. Out damned spot!

Columbia students in their stock-picking prowess selected Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Airbnb. Other advocates target Disney, Volvo [what?!], and even poor Ben & Jerry’s. Pick your own genocide profiteer. Demand that your parents disclose their portfolio so you can interrogate.

Leverage your privilege

Getting into Ivy or other top costly, elite, extreme Survivor colleges demands more than 6.5 GPAs and 23andMe proof you’re not wholly straight white male Northern European colonist.

You also need to be among the first private high school valedictorians at age 8 to EGOT while solving the climate crisis and ending hate for the marginalized. While also patenting an algorithm to make AI serve humanity instead of vice versa. Starting with Tesla Autopilot that lulls idiots into killing pedestrians while staring at their phones.

Most of all, you needed connections. Especially among the .01% wealthy powerful and influential capitalists you hate. The ones who can offer more than the typical legacy shoo-in because their family foundations gave $50 million to their alma maters to name a new building. Cool if that’s also your name.

Even if your failing grades, zero activities, ganja brain and sense of entitlement made your college application suck like tornados leveling flyover America, you may have powerful strings your parents pulled to get you into your exclusive college.

Now pull those strings to support your cause for Gaza, whether launching a GoFundMe or nonprofit organization.

Whatever you do, don’t waste the summer.

If you truly care about humanity, not just the latest cause, headlines and getting high on your righteousness. Human suffering never takes a break. Why should you?

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.



Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.