Stand strong in protests

By Brianna Wellen

I often find myself glamorizing the protests that took place in the ’60s and ’70s opposing the Vietnam War. What I wouldn’t give, I thought, to be among the crowds and riots, being arrested for my beliefs, standing up in the face of tear gas and making a difference! Of course, in these imaginary time-travel situations, I am never in as extreme danger as those who were harmed at actual protests, such as the shooting at Kent State University. I would be involved just enough to have some harrowing tales to share with my grandchildren.

Now, in the face of a reoccurrence of on-campus protests, the consequences-to-results ratio seems less appealing to me and, I would imagine, others my age.

The recent incident at the University of California at Davis, in which police officers pepper-sprayed student protesters who were peacefully assembling, caused the media to finally shed some serious light on the issues at hand.

While this was a disturbing incident that certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly, it was a regular occurrence in the mass campus protests of the past.

Times have changed, and this event was looked upon as an error on the part of the police, not bravery or loyalty to their cause on the part of the students. Reactions such as these hinder the involvement of students in U.S. protests. Students these days live much more comfortable lives and are less willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of a national movement, especially one that doesn’t seem to be getting much major attention.

And so we have the chicken-egg situation: Are students not participating because nothing is getting done, or is nothing getting done because students aren’t participating?

In countries, such as Egypt, students have rallied together to create major governmental change by facing the risk of execution and putting family and friends in danger based on association alone. These students are accomplishing real things, not simply talking about change as is too often the case with students in our country.

Now, with actions in the U.S. reflecting, even in the smallest amount, those abroad and those of the past, I hope students recognize what it may take to stir the pot enough to make a difference and change the current economic climate. These protests cannot be taken lightly and should not be seen as a fad.

There are many reasons to protest. Economic woes will long affect college students, political unrest will always be present in our country and every passing day brings a new set of problems, which students should be standing up against. There is no in-between when it comes to supporting a meaningful cause; it’s either worth fighting for or it isn’t. In light of the UC Davis events, the stakes have been raised and students need to decide whether or not it’s worth standing their ground and continuing to fight the good fight.