Peace is the right prescription to support higher education

This footage I shot of last Thursday’s “Rally Against Austerity” may seem slightly outdated now that nearly a week has elapsed. The culprit behind my tardy posting is yesterday’s “Increase Diversity Bake” sale by the Berkeley College Republicans. After all, “racist” cupcakes are much tastier to write about than a routine higher education protest, and thus the bake sale preoccupied my blogging energy last weekend.

Indeed, last week’s “Rally Against Austerity” was quite uninspiring from the standpoint of the fight for higher education, but I’ll leave it up to the editors to tell you about that. Rather, I am more concerned with the expression aspect of last week’s rally. Over the past few years, a fringe wing of the protest movement has taken a liking to breaking laws such as disrupting classes, occupying buildings, rioting and even vandalizing campus — paradoxically, all in the name of supporting higher education.

So, I asked several students at the rally if they thought this criminal element has helped or hurt their fight. Unsurprisingly, all of the students I asked said they thought it hurt, usually responding to my inquiry with worries that the extreme may be scaring away the mainstream, thereby explaining the protest movement’s dwindling turnout. This hypothesis makes quite a lot of sense to me. After all, I doubt John Q. Freshman’s parents would be very happy if they found out little Johnny was involved with those brutes in black bandanas!

Indeed, I diagnose violence as the disease plaguing the fight for higher education. I hereby prescribe the protesters out there to take a chill pill. By all means, continue your activism against budget cuts and tuition hikes through rallies, marches, petitions, lobbying and other political measures. But, please, keep it peaceful — not just for your personal safety, but for the strength of your movement.

Casey Given’s column appears every Monday in The Daily Californian. Follow him on Twitter @CaseyJGiven.