Agitators and Vendors Win Slow Noon of Protests   Leave a comment

Just a week removed from the walkout, and it’s a deflated day.

Students quietly protest the student media funding freeze imposed by AS President Utsav Gupta

Protests started around noon with a notably absent BSU presence. I’ve hardly heard chatter about the Geisel statue KKK hood, but there are students passing out roses of peace, in reference to the rose found in the hooded statue’s hand. The funding freeze on 33 student media publications is almost unanimously regarded as a gross violation of free speech, targeted at the Koala, but hurting all campus media. Sideshow Bob failed to kill Bart again, as the Koala published today, bales of newsprints on a wagon, coming out in full force to distribute the deliberately offensive publication. Lots of people taking them, lots of them refusing, seen a few take it just to tear it up in the distributor’s face. I read through it, won’t post the link because it has no substance. Nonetheless, it will offend people as it intends and cause more furor.

The funding freeze protesters aren’t shouting slogans and chants, just crowded on Library Walk, some holding signs. It looks to me like their leaders are just waiting around for the television cameras to come find them so they can start talking to the TV reporter- they’re not trying to address any students walking by. There is a lot of media here, I ‘ve definitely counted at least ten fancy/video cameras. I have ambivalent feelings about the media here. Student demonstrators knowing this is now national news expect the cameras will be there, and so they save their voices for the box-viewing public instead of sending their message to the student body. Not necessarily a problem, but they I think they should do both.

Finding the cameras is probably a sound strategy to get their message to the outside world, but the already apathetic inside world of our school isn’t even being reached out to by these protests. I am speaking mainly of the funding freeze protest, which has broken up as I’m typing this now. They never numbered more than 50, were silent, and had no energy. Only the Koala members are left, the media and the protesters have cleared out. A couple guys passing out blank computer paper declaring it has a higher journalistic quality than the Koala raise a few laughs.

The only people that did have energy today were the lively smirking Koala members scouring Library Walk for anyone without a paper in their hands, the clubs selling Korean BBQ and Krispy Kreme’s, and the mock protest shouting slogans like “32% increase not enough!” and “Who’s University? Not yours!”.

Mock protesters march down up and down library walk demanding more fee increases, funding for war and occupation, demanding privatization, and declaring that the university does and should belong to the rich.

These people are clearly only doing this for attention, trying to incite a negative reaction, and hopefully o get on TV. I believe they will meet at least mild success. Whether it’s just a down day, apathy has set in, or there’s general fatigue, the atmosphere just lacks the electricity of the last week. The BSU leaders not having organized an event probably has much to do with this. Disappointing that hopeful instigators have won today’s round.

It’s a shame that the boorish satirists are the most vocal and vibrant today. The lack of passion in the air, lack of shouting negative comments at the Koala, and inability to muster more than rolling eye for the mock marchers show strong discipline, not reacting to those who only want to offend and steal attention. I get the feeling most passers by are not taking them at all seriously and are treating them like a Family Guy joke- just a weak half-smile and then discarding the memory. On the whole, the student body is unimpressed.

The media came out in full force today thinking they smelled a stronger story than there is out here today. The larger issues on this campus are still very much in play, but today has been uneventful in terms of impacting the direction or intensity of the discourse. There will be Koala backlash, but I don’t expect as strong of a student response, especially from non-BSU supporters. The news reporters are still walking around, bossing around their camera men, trying to squeeze the best possible story out of a relatively boring day. One reporter caught my eye, interviewing an African American student while sitting by a fountain.

A TV reporter sits down with an African American student to record an interview

Take a look at this picture. I see the black student, who, while I was listening in, had very strong answers to all the reporter’s questions and represented the BSU’s views sharply with clear elocution. Seated on his left is an anglo reporter, and then we see his swarthier cameraman with his shadow baked into the sidewalk. The student is speaking about how the campus climate and institutional biases don’t welcome minorities and suppresses their aspirations while the white guy sits in the shade, occasionally flicking commands at his non-anglo cameraman.

I even heard the reporter refer to an event called the “Cook-Off”, and the student had to correct him that the event who’s reverberations might have caused the Chile earthquake was called the “Compton Cookout”. I will say that the BSU had a very thin presence here today, and the reporter gave the student a valuable opportunity to broadcast his powerful voice, but being here seeing this made me take the manner into account- I can’t overlook him ignoring or flippantly treating his minority camera man as his interviewee is passionately speaking out against the university being unwelcoming to blacks.

Other examples of what I think were less contrasting relationships between reporter and camera holder are strewn about this place, but the one I mentioned stood out to me. I think the media had a bad day and didn’t quite satiate their juicy appetite. The funding freeze protesters were disappointing, the Koala and mock “rich interest” marchers had the most energy, but tried to engage a largely apathetic audience, and the Korean BBQ and donut vendors won out, while the BSU was mostly absent, presumably saving it for tomorrow. Tranquility, stifled interest, and food sellers ruled the day. Expect a hungrier tomorrow.


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