Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Protest only served prof's cause"

It's official: Ayad Rahmani's "architorture" protest was a big flop. The only thing he succeeded in doing was igniting a debate on teaching methods, not community planning. Hopefully, we've seen the first and last of these arrogant spectacles.

This is Steve McClure's op-ed on behalf of the entire editorial staff that appeared in yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Washington State University professor Ayad Rahmani's faux-protest along Bishop Boulevard played into all the less-desirable stereotypes of a town-gown controversy.

If that was his goal, he succeeded.

Anything beyond that, however, and his gathering students to protest the design of buildings and sidewalks in the developing area of southern Pullman was little more than a publicity stunt.

He argues students didn't have to participate in the March 27 protest, which took place during the regularly scheduled class period. Those who wanted to write a paper arguing their position could receive the same credit.

We find that a bit hollow since most students will choose the path of least resistance - in this case, joining a hundred classmates for a cup of coffee and a picket.

There are hundreds of ways for students at WSU to become engaged in their community. Dropping by a parking lot for a protest two months before graduation hardly ranks near the top of the list.

Those 100 students could have spent that same class hour working with practicing architects to discover how to incorporate the desired aesthetics into an architectural rendering that works for a paying client.

If Rahmani wanted to give his students a strong life lesson, he should send them to planning commission meetings for a sense of how architects and developers work through the process. That also might give those students an idea of the challenges people confront when it comes time to develop property.

A two-mile stretch of road doesn't suddenly convert into a vibrant business district with a wave of a wand - it takes money and usually happens over a period of years.

In other words, teach these students what it will be like when they're pitching their plans to the people who will be financing the construction of their creative vision.

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