Oh wow man. It was groovy. It was outta sight. They really stuck it to the man, just like in the olden days. Forty-one demonstrators were finally removed from Wheeler Hall on the University of California campus after nearly twelve hours occupying a large chunk of the second floor. They barricaded themselves in as supporters gathered outside. The group of "mostly students" were protesting a thirty-two percent increase in student fees and job and program cuts. They demanded that laid-off custodial workers be rehired and amnesty for anyone arrested in the protest.
And I'm still hung up on that "mostly students" thing. Who else would be involved? Maybe some of the laid-off custodial workers? Perhaps some disgruntled parents, irate at the hike in tuition? How about misanthropic anarchists looking for a fresh wave of discontent on which to surf? No matter. It was all over before the late news. Plenty of video was taken and the great pot of nostalgia was stirred. The Free Speech Movement is not dead, and now it has its own Twitter feed.
This is how grumpy and jaded I have become. Instead of imagining a way to find my way up to Berkeley to be a part of that scene, I wish that they would all go home and make logical connections between fee hikes, a state and federal government being swallowed up by deficit, health care, and a world at war. Think about it like students. Find a cause and find a cure.
By contrast, everyone in my school district was asked by our new superintendent to unplug everything electrical before leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday. Not just turned off. Unplugged. It is our way of staving off the millions of dollars of budget cuts headed down the track next year. It's a team-building exercise. So I crawled under all the tables in my computer lab and unplugged the twenty-four CPUs and twenty-four monitor and assorted peripherals to do my part in making our school more green and put us back in the black.
And I can't help thinking that occupying a classroom in the English department is on a par with unplugging all those computers and pencil sharpeners. "This is what democracy looks like," was the chant heard outside Wheeler Hall. Since I know that I've got to go back to work a little early in a week to plug everything back in, and all those students who missed class on the Friday before Thanksgiving will have to make up those missed exams, I guess I wish democracy was a little more intimidating. It's like those guys at Faber College once said:
"I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."
"We're just the guys to do it."