No doubt about it, the movement against the privatization of the university has made history in student activism. However, many of us may feel like there’s been a bit of a lull in the movement since March 4th. Why? Well for starters, immediately after March 4th, many universities had finals week followed by Spring break, but there are more serious reasons.
This article in the SF Chronicle outlines a few of them:
Michael Macor / The Chronicle
UC Berkeley police push back protesters outside Wheeler Hall during a rally against salary cuts and layoffs in November. Many students criticize the school’s disciplinary process.
A campus crackdown on protesters has brought relative calm to UC Berkeley this semester, but it’s provoking accusations that administrators are intimidating students with vague charges and quelling free speech with an arbitrary application of rules.
Compared with the fall semester, when students angry over budget cuts seized buildings, clashed with police and vandalized Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s home, the spring semester has been quiet save for one wild February night when students trashed a construction site and rampaged down Telegraph Avenue.
But the university is focusing on protests from November and December, and have accused at least 63 students of violating the Code of Student Conduct. Disciplinary action includes possible suspension.
Students say the drawn-out disciplinary process is riddled with problems and is stifling legitimate activism.
“You look around the room and say, ‘How many people are in?’ And nobody’s in,” said one doctoral student facing disciplinary charges who declined to be named. “Either they have conduct charges against them, or they can’t risk getting them, or they’re just scared.”
Many won’t even attend rallies, said freshman Abhay Agarwal, also facing charges. “Nobody wants to get suspended.”