The Politics of Protest
Dr. Margaret Commins
Assistant Professor Margaret Commins was profiled by Joanne Spataro in the August 29, 2012 issue of Creative Loafing. The story was included in a group of profiles about "The People of the People's Convention."
Margaret Commins, a Washington, D.C., native, grew up watching protesters in action in the '60s and '70s. Many of the underclassmen she teaches at Queens University did not.
That's why the assistant professor of political science and international studies has assigned her students to interview demonstrators in Uptown during the three days of the DNC. These students, who started her one-credit experiential course in late August, plan to ask protesters about their income level, religion and reasons for demonstrating, based on a list of questions created in the class. To keep the pool as diverse as possible, students will visit Uptown at different times of the day. After the November election, Commins and her class will compare these interviews with exit polls, weighing the average voter's opinions against the average protester's.
"We all have preconceived notions of protesters, especially students in this generation-'they're crazies, they're hippies,'" Commins, 49, said. "It will be really eye-opening for them."