Web Site Pokes Fun at Campus Issues

State Hornet
Sacramento State University

Lightning bolts striking from underneath sinister-looking black clouds and Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez standing arms folded in the foreground. Beside the graphic is a title that proclaims: “Capitalism begins here!”

Visit www.csusresistance.org and you make think you happened to fall upon an alternative universe — a place where Gonzalez is the oligarch furthering the university’s capitalist agenda, and where commentary is colored with satire and titles such as “Devastation 2010,” “It’s Good to Be King” and “He came for the chickens first” are offered up as reading material.

The Web site, which labels itself as an “alternative perspective” and a “work of satire,” first appeared this semester using a spoof on the new Sac State logo _” turning the “S” torch into a money sign and using the word capitalism in place of leadership.

The content of the Web site includes commentary on the Oct. 27 CSU Board of Trustees’ move to raise student fees and boost executive salaries; a timeline that traces the “The Corporatization of CSUS;” the story of how Gonzalez cleansed the campus of the chickens and the military takeover of Sac State.

The mastermind behind the Web site is history and humanities graduate student James Banyai — who just recently revealed his identity. Banyai is an alumnus of Sac State, receiving his undergraduate degree in humanities.

On the Web site, Banyai said because he is an alumnus, and fifth year student, he has a vested interest in the university and has created the alternative Web site to “provoke discussion on the campus and within the community about these issues and to encourage reform.”

Banyai, who goes by the pen name “Thursday,” after G.K. Chesterton’s novel “The Man Who Was Thursday,” had first envisioned the Web site to be an online newspaper that would be a way for faculty, staff and students to express criticisms about the current climate on campus.

But after much research, Banyai concluded that since U.S. laws governing online publishing are strict and “designed to protect those in power,” he went forth as a resistance of one striving to provide reprieve for “the collective dissatisfaction, apprehension and frustration present throughout the campus,” Banyai wrote in an e-mail.

Banyai said the content of the Web site was carefully thought out, but declined to comment on the particulars of his and other’s contributions because he said he wants the emphasis placed on the message and not the messenger.

The Web site recently has had two pop-up windows telling visitors of a “Christmas Special” planned for Dec. 25 and a “Phase Two” coming in January — Banyai would not comment on the future of the Web site but did promise that “the resistance has only just begun!”

Sac State Public Affairs Director Frank Whitlatch said the Web site seemed a bit shrill, but had the redeeming quality of creativity.

“It’s the sort of thing you expect to see in a university Web site,” Whitlatch said. “At least it shows people care about the campus — that’s important.”

Undeclared sophomore Brian Hall said he thought the Web site was informative and was most interested in the commentary about Gonzalez’s pay increase and the money he spent on redecorating his office.

“It was funny and it didn’t come out like they were just complaining — they really put some thought into it,” Hall said.

Simone Boden, first year transfer business student, said she had heard rumblings of the resistance Web site during a women studies class and said she wished those behind the Web site had done more advertising so she’d seen it sooner.

Boden’s friend, nursing major Victoria Burachek, also took interest in the site. “We need to get more people to talk about it so people can do things about it,” Burachek said.

Electrical engineering graduate student Mike Poku laughed at the depiction of the hanging chicken on the Web site’s story about the birds’ sudden disappearance.

“I think it’s good to get their voice across instead of one-sided information,” Poku said. “And I’ve always wondered where the chickens went.”

The resistance site offers links to relevant articles in addition to a link to the UC Berkeley version of the Web site, called Berkeley Watch, which the site says discusses the corporatization and militarization of university campuses.