Yesterday’s national action was the largest such day of coordinated campus protest since the Occupy Wall Street movement went viral last fall. But it was also the third early-March day of action to emerge from the national student movement that began with Occupy California two years earlier.
Occupy Wall Street has given the American student movement a boost, certainly. But in doing so it is merely returning a favor.
Yesterday student activists took to the Brooklyn Bridge in New York like Occupy Wall Street. They congregated in the park that was until recently home to Occupy Oakland, and marched from there to Morgan Stanley offices in San Francisco. They erected tents at UC Santa Cruz, and hung banners in the Massachusetts statehouse like last spring’s proto-OWS anti-Walker occupiers did in Madison. But they also took over administrators’ offices at DePaul University in Illinois and at UC San Diego. They also rallied for increased library hours at Harvard. They also held teach-ins at Ohio State, teach-outs at Berkeley, and a mock telethon for student debt at SUNY Buffalo.
And yesterday was no stand-alone event. Activists used Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza as the kickoff point for a 99-mile march to Sacramento, planning to arrive in time for a Monday occupation of the state capitol. That same day, students throughout New York will be descending on Albany for their own day of action.
#M1 has been described as a kickoff for the new semester, though there have been at least a dozen major campus actions in the US since January. It has been described as a reflection of an OWS “shift to the universities,” though OWS is as much the child of recent student activism as its parent. In reality, it was neither of those things. It was something quite different, and far more interesting.
It was just another day.