This weekend’s library study-in focused on the fight at hand: education.
The event’s organizers encouraged students to bring their schoolwork to the library; teachers held study groups and guest speakers held teach-ins.
The study-in was a successful instance of student activism. Students who participated displayed a mature understanding of the crisis, which can broadly be defined as the apparent lack of concern for higher education.
Through the study-in, demonstrators publicly showed that they value their studies. Likewise, professors who attended sent the same message.
Whether administrators like Chancellor Linda Katehi and Provost Enrique Lavernia authorized keeping the library open simply to subdue a disobedient protest or whether they were truly committed to reclaiming study areas, they made the library a safe educational space. There were no police forces present, which eliminated the tension present in past demonstrations.
Keeping the library open during the weekend also encouraged the typically inactive to become more connected to the university. While those 40 individuals wearing red bands of solidarity led the study-in, most of the students in the library were simply there to study. Knowing they could stay past usual open hours may not have encouraged these students to drop everything and write to their state representatives, but it nonetheless increased awareness overall.
The event caught the attention of thousands of students in a non-aggressive and academic way. Few students are willing to get arrested at a riotous sit-in, but significantly more will volunteer their time to study at a student protest.
Furthermore, the library staff members who volunteered their nights brought attention to their own budgetary struggles. For years, librarians have been struggling to attain more funding for academic material. The combination of these two groups was not only sensible, but it also made both messages more powerful.
To those outside the university and the voting public, the students at UC Davis appear rational and committed. The event went beyond frivolous and aggressive means of gaining attention and accomplished a specific point of awareness.