Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

The Berkeley protest school trained a new generation.

By triji May 4, 2024
News

The famous quote “No event is unique and solitary, it is simply the repetition of something that has happened before, perhaps -be often” was written by Mark Twain in The Famous Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in 1865.

For several weeks, among tents and placards endorsing Palestinian rights and demanding an end to Israel’s war against the Gaza Strip, a new generation of students at the University of Berkeley in California has been rhyming with another past on the steps and lawn of Sproul Hall, an iconic neoclassical building. in relation to a nationwide movement, but also with the essence of the community.

The Free Speech Movement, led by Mario Savio, Hal Draper, and Steve Weissman, planted the seeds of May ’68 here in 1964–1965. It was also there that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech in May 1967, calling for a “radical revolution of values” in the midst of the Vietnam War and the nation’s existential crisis surrounding civil rights. It was also here that anger against the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s and against economic inequality, stoked by the Occupy Wall Street movement at the end of 2011, also broke out.

“Especially sensitive to injustices”
Matt, a master’s student studying music, observes, “The university has a strong history of student struggles, which it prides itself on in its promotional materials.” He makes this observation while thinking about an encampment that has expanded in the last few years. days. He claimed that the violent images emanating from the campuses of Columbia University in New York and the University of California, Los Angeles, farther south, where the police intervened this week to tear down the barricades and drive the students out of the buildings they were occupying, were the main source of this surge of mobilization.

He continues, “We bear the burden of a legacy and a unique sensitivity to injustices.” This clarifies the reason behind the current atmosphere, which is not dissimilar from the protests of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

The famous Sproul Hall square was bustling on a Thursday afternoon. On one side were the tents, which were mostly empty at this time of day, and on the other side were graduates taking pictures in front of the gate leading to the nearby park, ceremonial stoles around their necks. All under the watchful eye of a few security guards.

Kisae, a Berkeley alumnus who came to lend her voice to the concert of protests against the war with her 5-year-old daughter Zarha, drew in chalk on the square’s asphalt, saying, “Until now, we have avoided violence, but it remains latent.” “I wanted to demonstrate to him that regardless of life circumstances, it is critical to defend human rights. We have a responsibility to care for the fate of others and a role to play in light of what is going on in the world.

The woman, who graduated from Berkeley just ten years ago, smiles and says, “If things are going well here, it’s probably because the University is used to this kind of thing.” A banner behind her lists the demands of the movement, including the immediate severance of ties with Israeli universities, the establishment of a permanent program of Palestinian studies, the disclosure of Berkeley University’s financial assets linked to the conflict and its rejection, and the university’s condemnation and call for an end to the Gaza War.

Thus, the younger generation of students hopes to emulate the numerous achievements of their forebears, who battled in the 1980s to get a significant divestment of over $3 billion from firms that conducted business with the South African government. “Apartheid.” Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies was founded in 1969 as a result of the anticolonial attitude and fervor of the civil rights movement.

“A lengthy encounter”
Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof refrained from discussing the reaction his university intends to provide to students in an interview with Le Devoir, content to describe the disagreement as “different” from previous ones because of “the way in which it divides the university community.”

An anti-Israel lecturer’s presence on campus in February of last year sparked a pro-Palestinian demonstration that compelled the university to reschedule the visit and fix a few shattered windows. Since then, Berkeley has faced administrative pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, placing it among the six American colleges under investigation for anti-Semitism, as well as political pressure from the Republican-led House Education Commission. But, the university administration is reassured that there is no reason to justify police intervention on campus, just like in other parts of the nation.

Mr. Mogulof says, “We have a long history of peaceful political protest, and our stance toward today’s demonstrations is consistent with long-standing practice.” It is not allowed for police enforcement to take preventative action. It is only acceptable if it is absolutely required to ensure the members of our community’s physical safety. which on Thursday did not appear to be the case.

A lull following the exams?
However, with just a few days remaining until the spring semester ends on May 10, the institution appears to be primarily focused on buying time, which could dampen the intensity of the occasion. Monday is the start of final exams.

Political scientist Omar Wasow of the Department of Political Science establishment north of Sproul Hall believes that “there is good reason to believe that this particular wave of protests, with its encampments, will slow down as the school year ends and students return home.” However, there’s also a chance that this activity wave has inspired enough people to start fresh protest movements away from campuses.

Irene Bloemraad, director of graduate studies in sociology at Berkeley, observes, “With hindsight, we see that student mobilization was tenacious on economic inequalities, on immigrant rights, on climate change, on racial injustice during the Black Lives Matter movement.” Additionally, the US elections in November of next year might exacerbate it.

Editor Peter Goodman, who specializes in Asian literature, was thrilled to see his city’s renowned university also keeping pace with the demonstration on Thursday. Goodman lives in a residential area close to Berkeley. “It’s a place of learning and awareness of social issues,” stated the guy, who during his English literature studies at Cornell in the 1960s was actively involved in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and for civil rights.

“I’m a little more worried about what this will become and what it will give,” he added. Today’s youth are raised in an extremely connected society where beliefs are amplified and reinforced without providing them with the opportunity to hear alternative viewpoints, save from remarks laced with emotion and rage. It gets harder and harder in this setting to accept that there are always two sides to a story and, more importantly, to make the required concessions, especially in a diverse culture like ours, he added. He came to an end.

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By triji

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