The High Cost of Action

Campus Issues: Protest costs further emphasize that violence hasn't helped anyone; only peaceful actions will motivate broad support.

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Apparently, protesting the high cost of public education is expensive business. Violence and vandalism employed by protesters in the past several months may, in fact, ironically lead to more cuts to UC Berkeley services and programs.

This revelation illustrates the double-edged downside to recent protests: These distracting techniques have proven to not only alienate the vast majority of the student body, but they've also cost the campus additional money that it doesn't have. It doesn't get much more ridiculous than that.

Costs in police overtime, logistical expenses, campus response to and resetting of falsely pulled fire alarms and repairing campus property for protests since Nov. 2009 have totaled about $200,000. These numbers clearly indicate that the confrontational game demonstrators have been playing doesn't serve anyone; their attempts to cast themselves as martyrs for public education have been both shameful and false.

And while most of this blame lies with the extreme elements that have hijacked the student-led protest movement over the course of the last academic year, the administration is also partially culpable. Had they not overreacted in terms of police deployment in cases like the Wheeler occupation and the "Open University," the costs may not have been so high. We similarly question whether it is financially wise to spend more than $2,000 to replace plants and planters at the Chancellor's private residence, however unjustified their destruction may have been.

Our criticism of the unproductive and downright stupid tactics of the rioters, vandalizers and occupiers shouldn't be construed as a lack of support for protests in general. Peaceful civil disobedience is a valuable and effective method when employed properly.

Walking out of class doesn't cost the campus tens of thousands of dollars, yet blatantly manifests the disapproval with Sacramento and UC administration felt by a unified, mobilized portion of the student body. And that's the type of protests that the majority of the student body, California taxpayers and this board can stand behind.

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