Thursday, February 26, 2009

NYU demonstration for "boycotting companies that supported the Israeli military"--

--reverberates on campuses 3,000 miles away:

"Playing the part of a protester"


Originally published: 2/26/09

THE SANTA CLARA (Santa Clara University; Santa Clara, California)

On the Web at:

New York University's Kimmel Student Center was under occupation by a group of nearly 80 student protestors Feb. 18-20.

Though the campaign's goals, essentially to raise opposition to Israeli military action in Gaza, were certainly reasonable, the protestors' methods were ineffective because they were more show than substance.

This student "occupation," or Take Back NYU! (TBNYU) campaign, is part of a wider international trend that gained momentum following Israel's most recent assault on Gaza.

Beginning in mid-January, over a dozen universities in the U.K. staged similiar sit-in protests, beginning at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London on Jan. 13.

On Feb. 17, Edinburgh University's own student sit-in ended as students agreed to leave George Square lecture theatre.

Protests like this are a legacy of the 1960s, in which sit-ins were effectively utilized in ideological battles ranging from Civil Rights (The Greensboro Sit-In February 1, 1960) to Vietnam opposition. Their recent revival, which, according to CNN, has been aided by social networking sites, has led some to claim a revival of 1960s protest spirit. However, "Student activism is still a relatively minority activity compared to its heyday," according to Keith Kahn-Harrisin, a sociologist at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths College in London.

The protest at NYU strongly paralleled other student sit-ins in the U.K. After settling down in their school's cafeteria, the student activists announced that they would remain there until NYU's administration met their originally unclear demands, which eventually ranged from boycotting companies that supported the Israeli military to providing reconstruction aid for the University of Gaza, which was damaged in a December Israeli airstrike....