Students and members of the community criticized methods used in last week’s Mar. 4 protest, such as blocking bus terminals and pulling fire alarms.
Yet, these disturbances should not overshadow the purpose of the protest to restore funding to higher education. In fact, it was the protestors’ ability to cause this discomfort that made the protest a success.
In causing so much disruption, protestors intended to force a response from people in power, such as state legislators or UC regents. Even though we do not support breaking the law and endangering lives, attempting to block a freeway is one action that officials cannot ignore.
This attempt, in addition to sitting in front of bus terminals, blocking streets and pulling fire alarms causes those in power to feel uncomfortable. It incites such extraordinary commotion that legislators, administrators and regents cannot simply close their doors. Protestors demanded change not just with their slogans and posters, but also by causing the mere apprehension so many onlookers felt at the thought of 250 protestors on Interstate 80.
Yet, protests ought to disrupt people who need to be disrupted: Administrators, UC regents, Assemblymembers, Senators, Gov. Schwarzenegger. Not students. Not the low-income workers who depend on Yolobus to get to their minimum wage jobs. Not the Davis residents without cars who depend on Unitrans to get to the hospital and doctor’s appointments. Not the struggling students who might now fail classes because they missed a midterm on Thursday. Not the scientific researchers who depend on time-sensitive deliveries to continue the valuable work they do for everyone.
It should also be noted that this method of protest is only one avenue for change among many. On the same day as the campus protest, thousands of students, teachers and union members joined at the capitol to show their concern, share information and gain support for funding all levels of education. For months now, UC students have been writing letters and calling their representatives to express the urgency of increasing funding.
The financial struggle of students has more attention now than ever before. The protest, in accordance with other students’ efforts, gathered significant momentum that will likely push higher education to the top of the state’s priority list.
The cuts to services in the UC could worsen in the next several years. Teachers are losing their jobs, class sizes are increasing and services are being cut completely. We find ourselves in a truly desperate situation and must exhaust every method possible to minimize budget cuts – even if that method is drastic.