Workers for Justice Disrupting the Peace

Clank! Clank! Clank! That is what I and many others in Clark V and III were rudely awoken by at six in the morning on Tuesday. It was not the harshest way I’ve ever been yanked from slumber, but boy, was it annoying. Luckily, it only lasted a few minutes and I was groggily able to fall back asleep. But to my chagrin, what did I hear not 30 minutes later? You guessed it: clank, clank, clank. There went any hope I had of sleeping in until eight.

Based on the “Si, se puede” chants and the e-mail from President Oxtoby, I knew it was a Workers for Justice rally most likely directed at the verification of the workers’ documentation. I’m not going to talk about the documentation issue—I don’t know anything about it, so it’s not really my place. However, I do want to discuss the protestors’ choice to disturb the student community, which has nothing to do with the administration’s actions.

I am all for expressing one’s freedom of speech and standing up for one’s beliefs, but I am also in favor of common courtesy, and this demonstration lacked it. I understand that some of those marching may have had time constraints and that “the early bird catches the worm,” but that is no excuse for disturbing unrelated persons, especially during quiet hours. Believe me—I was not the only one who knew this and who was tempted to call Campus Security to politely tell the demonstrators to quiet down.

If it is in fact true that the protesters congregated in front of Oxtoby’s house, I can only shake my head. There is no reason in this case to interfere with the private life of President Oxtoby and his family. It is brutish to interfere with someone’s personal life based on a fair and obligatory public action that they oversaw. If anything, they should have protested at his public office, where more publicity and less negative attention for the cause would be available.

This situation speaks to a larger movement in America: that of unorganized reaction as a substitute for substantive work for change and understanding. This is not a criticism of the reasons for any legitimate ongoing protests—only of the unintentional ramifications such as anger displacement, band-wagoning of related causes, and possible ineffectiveness. For heaven’s sake, there is even a Lockupy SCC event on Facebook to protest the possible lock-cutting of improperly-placed bikes. Rather than coming to understand that such a code would not be officially decided until a 30-day period of student input and responsibly voicing one’s opinion on the issue while working to install more bike racks through mutual understanding, this event attempts to intimidate the administration through a “BIKE LOCK-UP CLUSTERF—.” If that is not a blatant co-opting and misuse of an unrelated cause, then I don’t know what is.

Why have these reactionary movements taken seed in America? Is it because the “elite” has taken advantage of, wronged, or disregarded the rest? Or is it that the rest were simply not aware and active enough to see and prevent what was occurring? There is a subjective answer for each protest, but understanding the actual impetus for these movements can lead to more effective channels for enacting change.

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