Today as part of the national day of protest against funding cuts at universities, we had our very own protest here at UNC-Chapel Hill. Here, the protest appears to have been organized by Students for a Democratic Society. So predictably, instead of promoting a serious discussion about university budget cuts, the event quickly degenerated into a farce.
I encountered the small crowd of about 30 of the usual suspects as they crossed Polk Place, rudely interrupting the people at the dedication of the Eve Carson Memorial Garden with loud drumming and chanting.
Stealing a page from the recent student body president campaign of Carolina Review Editor in Chief Nash Keune, the protesters called for the abolition of all tuition charges as well as the firing of the university’s upper level administration. They accompanied this with creepily totalitarian chants of “the people, united, will never be defeated!”
In the crowd, many of the usual suspects in the gang of thugs known as Students for a Democratic Society could be seen. This is the same group responsible in the past year for attacking Tom Tancredo, threatening UNC faculty, and stealing copies of the Carolina Review.
The protest moved to the steps of South Building, where a woman with a loudspeaker proclaimed that “you cannot legislate civil disobedience” and stated that the protesters fully intended to break the law by protesting inside South Building after it closes at 5 PM. The potential of trespassing charges did not seem to deter them as 15 more daring protesters entered the building. The rest of them stood outside and listed grievances against the system barely related to the current budget crisis, including calls for unionization of campus workers and admission of illegal immigrants under in-state tuition rates.
“Education is a right, not a privilege.” “A Job is a Right” “Repeal Jim Crow” (!?)…just a sampling of the intellectual level we are dealing with here.
In the meantime, University officials observing the protest could but stand and laugh and the juvenile nature of it all.
Don’t get me wrong, budget cuts are a serious issue. They affect all of us negatively. They affect me negatively. But the fact is we are in an economic recession. In a recession, people spend less money. When people spend less money the state collects less revenue in sales tax. This causes the state to have a budget shortfall and requires it to cut spending. Hence, the need for budget cuts. To pretend that the state of North Carolina can do otherwise in the current situation is to deny the basic laws of addition and subtraction. Apparently SDS has decided that trying to launch a social revolution is not enough and now they intend on launching a revolution against mathematics.
We can debate where the wisest place to cut the budget is. But these sorts of juvenile protests calling for completely unrealistic goals such as the abolition of tuition (because a free education is “a right not a privilege”) or the firing of administrators is completely pointless, and will change nothing. It’s just an excuse for some leftist activists to yell in the streets and pretend to be doing something of importance.
PS – I guess it could have been worse. According to the CNN article on the nationwide protests, police at UC-Davis had to fire rubber bullets at protesters to keep them from blocking an interstate highway, while police at Wisconsin-Milwaukee arrested 15 people after they tried to storm the main administration building.
Update: No arrests were made as the protesters agreed to leave the building peacefully. A short video of part of the protest can be viewed here: