Massive student protests are alive and well, just not here

In Berkley, in Puerto Rico, and now in the UK, students are putting on massive demonstrations – in the last month, even.

In the UK:

Around 52,000 students marched through London in protest at plans to increase tuition fees while cutting state funding for university teaching.

• Around 200 people from the march occupied 30 Millbank – the building that houses the Conservative party’s campaign headquarters – and a stand-off with police ensued.

• Police in riot gear clashed with protesters, who had smashed windows and mounted the roof of the building. Fourteen people – police and activists – were injured and police arrested 35 demonstrators.

In California yesterday:

As of 6:30am this morning, students at UC Berkeley have begun blocking the entrances to the California Hall, the main administrative building on campus. All entrances are surrounded.

In Puerto Rico (Google Translation): (Also see this)

The Board of Trustees will choose a new president amid threats of strikes and demonstrations in various sectors of the university community if this body appoints Guadalupe.

On Tuesday, Humanities students will take their power with an event that constitutes a “clear expression” of rejecting the new fee of $ 800 that takes effect next January, said Adriana Mulero Claudio, a spokeswoman for the Action Committee Humanities coordinating the one-day stoppage.

“To implement the quota in January, more than 10,000 students would be out of the UPR, while encouraging the dismissal of more non-teaching staff,” says the Action Committee for the Humanities in a press release.

On Thursday, students in education and social sciences also paralyze the work in their schools to protest the special assessment, which according to estimates student deprive 10.000 university to continue studying at UPR.

The days of massive student protests aren’t over. That tactic just hasn’t hit Brandeis.

We’re a private, not public university. We’re also quite small. Both factors mitigate the urge to do this sort of thing. As a private (expensive) school, tuition is already ridiculously expensive. They’re not going to raise it by 20%. Also, the de-facto market separation engendered by lots of different sorts of financial aid undermines a feeling of solidarity that we might normally have.

We at Brandeis feel uncomfortable talking about money. Our friends and our acquaintances might drop out because they can’t pay $50,000 a year anymore, but we pretend that nothing is wrong – almost like they never existed – and so we never confront the problem.

Maybe we should learn from these guys.


2 responses to “Massive student protests are alive and well, just not here”

  1. Esther Brandon

    It is very interesting learning what students in other schools do, but I am also unsure massive protests are the way to go. I would personally like another “town hall” type of meeting about finances.

  2. Mariel

    I agree that people at Brandeis should do more to address the economic barriers to being a student there. But I don’t think that means that protests are the way to address this issue. Organizing–which is harder, arguably not as “fun”, work–is. I think something that activists often forget when they see sexxxy protest videos is that being able to use these types of tactics is itself a manifestation of privilege–you can really only afford to put yourself in a position where you could lose financial aid or get expelled/arrested if you look a certain way and have a certain amount of money. If people at Brandeis “feel uncomfortable talking about money,” then trying to fix things needs to start with talking about money.