Over the last week, more than 200 students have camped in Wheeler Hall to demonstrate their frustration with the UC Board of Regents’ recently passed plan to increase tuition should the state fail to increase UC funding. While we wholeheartedly agree with the goals of the student movement, protesters must do more to effect lasting change.
While this protest bears some resemblance to the Occupy Cal movement three years ago, it appears more organized than the 2011 student protest. The main difference between these two demonstrations, however, is the narrow focus of the more recent one. The protesters have three demands: the elimination of the tuition-increase plan, the dropping of the pursuit of charges against the student arrested at the UC regents’ meeting and an increase of the transparency of UC expenditures.
The movement will not be effective if it addresses only the campus and the university. Yes, the UC regents are at fault for passing the tuition-increase plan, but the future of our tuition no longer lies in their hands. Gov. Jerry Brown must release his preliminary budget by mid-January, and students should therefore direct their efforts toward him.
This movement is undoubtedly garnering a lot of attention both on a local and national level. With Thanksgiving break beginning and finals week approaching, however, we are worried that this movement’s momentum will be lost. Three-hour general assembly meetings, while understandable, take up too much time when considering what they accomplish. Student attention will soon dwindle. Protesters should use the time left to focus on expanding their movement’s current perimeters and directing their attention toward the state in order to effect real, tangible change.
Occupying a building an hour and a half away from the state capital is not going to change Brown’s mind. This occupation has made a statement, but it appears to have fallen flat at the doors of the state Legislature and Brown’s office. Students must take their protest and concerns directly to them. We believe students are capable of more than just comfortably occupying a campus hall — because that is what this is: a comfortable protest. Students come and go, dropping in occasionally and staying as long as their schedules permit. We are students, too, and we understand that these protesters must prioritize their studies. The next step of this movement, however, requires direct action on a different level. What it needs are students who are willing to target efforts toward state officials who have a say in what happens.
Time is running out for the protest to take effect and for Brown to decide on the state budget. Forgo the three-hour general meetings. Instead, use that time to take a trip to the state capital. Stay focused. Do not allow your movement to fizzle out.