I marched in solidarity with hundreds of fellow students on October the 7th. I walked up the marble stairs of the library shouting, (which felt liberating, I have to say). I sat, and I heard the good-intentioned demands that would never be met, that nobody really expected to be met, and I saw the sons and daughters of Middle America gradually lose attention and file out. Off they went, back to business as usual. And why shouldn’t they – after all, it was clear that this movement wasn’t going to accomplish its aims, and probably not even raise much awareness among the outside world.
There is one big reason I can think of: we, ourselves, must know that this great university education matters. People like to say (and I am guilty of all these things too), “oh, the organizers were too disorganized,” and maybe they were, but why should those few people be responsible for getting the masses of students to care about their own education? Brian cancels class in support of the day of action, and most of us are happy not to have to go to school. People like to say, “ oh, the regents and politicians are nasty, greedy people,” and maybe they are, but what else do you expect when only a third of the population votes – and when we do vote, we go and approve Prop 13 and minority rule. I think many people come to Berkeley not to get a fancy diploma, but to get a world-class, eye-opening education, and inherit the culture of the free speech movement – I came here thinking all this – and I think if we’re not awake we might be settling for much less.