The protesters were complaining about fee hikes, the use of the SAT exam in student admissions, UC management of nuclear-weapons laboratories and what they called the university’s lack of diversity.
[From UC protesters chain themselves to doors at regents meeting]
This is exactly why modern day protests have zero impact on public opinion and public policy, they lack focus. If you watch any of the many (many) protests about U.S. foreign policy here in the Bay Area you will see 60’s retreads trotting out their dusty peace symbols, Che Guevara groupies sporting the latest in Che fashions, and modern day anarchists with the protest points ranging from Darfur and Tibet to Guantanamo to anti-globalization to “social justice” and the requisite “no blood for oil”.
It’s a grab bag of everyone’s favorite catch phrase and cause with no meaningful focus on anything specific other than angry people who feel they are not getting the attention they deserve:
“We need to take it into our own hands and tell them we are not going to let you meet until you listen to us,” Olson said.
The First Amendment declares that each of us has the right to speak our mind and no government can restrict us, but nowhere does it also direct that government or surrogates actually have to do what they are demanding, or even listen to them for that matter. Ms. Annie Olson isn’t angry because she isn’t being heard, she is angry because she isn’t getting the outcome she wants. There is a difference.
Maybe if Ms. Olson applied some of her considerable energies to consolidating an actionable message with the appropriate soundbites, and promoting that focused protest demand she would get more than 12 people to join her, she would enjoy public support and maybe have a chance at success with her cause. As it is now, she might as well stay home because chaining oneself to a door and arguing that SAT exams should not be used in university admissions is protest theatrics and not a way to actually build support.
These protesters are blowing a rare opportunity to take advantage of the spotlight that has been on the UC Regents this last year, and it’s really a shame because specific to the rising fee issue (mind you, UC is still a hell of a good deal for a world class education) in the face of the questionable compensation practices of the Board of Regents is a real issue that can get a lot of attention. But as long as groups like this insist on throwing every possible cause, no matter how ridiculous, they will continue to be ignored.