Letter to the Editor: UTSA’s Harlem Shake

Thank you UTSA students and Dr. Romo!
You have rekindled a fire that was slowly burning out. As I was heading to the Sombrilla to participate in UTSA’s version of the Harlem Shake (redux), I rode the elevator with another “adult” who described his hesitation about the whole activity. I asked him what he was doing when he was this age? He just rolled his eyes. I laughed and pointed out some of our students’ courageous, socially responsible accomplishments that have taken place since I began teaching at UTSA: organizing one of only three gay fraternities in the county (and whose president went on to join the Human Rights Campaign’s Steering Committee and lobbied for fair and equal rights); organizing a hunger strike to urge passage of the DREAM Act, acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, (with a few students lasting over 40 days without food), marching to San Fernando Cathedral (some students marching 14 miles alongside IH-35) to bring attention to their struggle to get the federal government to pass the DREAM Act , to staging a sit in at U.S. Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson’s office to convince her to support the DREAM Act.
I explained that I thought our students are also courageous for posting the “failed version” of UTSA’s Harlem Shake on YouTube. Despite the criticism, the organizers of the Harlem Shake returned with a more exciting version of their original Harlem Shake. This time around, the young organizers were able to convince Dr. Romo to participate. No other university has a university president participating in this cultural phenomenon, much less leading the dance.
KUDOS TO YOU DR. ROMO! And to the students who criticized, participated, and organized the event. I am proud of each and every one of you.
From the serious and political events mentioned above to the UTSA’s Harlem Shake (redux), our students have done what every major university only hopes to do for every student, teach them. Our students are doing exactly what we teach them: to have a voice.
Monday, as I walked towards the Sombrilla and saw the mass of students looking up to the JPL at the lone young man who was giving instructions, there was not a sound. The mass of students was silent. He had his hands placed on the concrete beams as he shouted instructions to the attentive, costumed participants below. As I listened and watched, I thought, of how proud I was of him and the students/participants. I am proud that our students acknowledged and took responsibility for their “failed version,” responded to the constructive criticism, and then moved on. Isn’t this what we want our young people to do? Isn’t this what we been trying to teach them? Next time I hear an “adult” comment about how young people don’t know anything, don’t pay attention to politics, or don’t care about a single thing, I will remind them of what I have witnessed over these past few years. Our students are the young people who won’t sit back and complain; our students are the young people who ask, “How can we fix this?” And then they find ways to fix the problem.
Thank you, Dr. Romo and UTSA students. You make me proud to be a UTSA faculty member; you make me proud to be your teacher; and you make me proud to be part of such an awesome community of doers!

Rose Rodriguez-Rabin
Lecturer II
The Writing Program