The tree sitters are wrong to be up in the trees. Their criticism comes too late, just like the CHP’s shortsighted, incomplete article on the LRDP, and students chose not to participate in the appropriate venues when they had the chance.
In 2005-2006 I shared the CUIP Good Neighbor Initiative internship with another now UCSC alum. Our job was to help the university get along better with the city. The city was mostly angry because of the expansion, so we ended up dealing with it on a daily basis.
We tried as hard as was we could to get students to come criticize, and subsequently alter, the LRDP when it was a “rough draft,” before the regents had voted on it. We held at least half a dozen information meetings on the LRDP. We held comment sessions, special times when students could come give their input and criticism. We publicized the times the city would be holding comment sessions. We formed coalitions with other groups, publicized relentlessly at bus stops, announced the events in classes, passed out quarter sheets, worked with colleges and RAs. Everyone knew, and hardly anyone came. To be more specific, the only people who came were the GNI interns, other CUIP interns we forced to attend, and a representative or two from environmental orgs.
The Regents held follow-up commentary sessions, where they came to the campus to hear concerns. How many students went? None came to comment, though a riot did form outside one of the meetings, where protesters’ many, conflicting concerns (janitor wages, gay rights, fee hikes, anti-war, anti-nuke, feminist, anti-corporate) were mashed into a garbled mess of noise.
I can’t express enough disappointment in the disorganized, disunified, immature political tantrums UC Santa Cruz students substitute for pragmatic, results-oriented activism. Santa Cruz students confirm stereotypes about themselves, even though the school is saturated with hope, idealism and intellect. UCSC students must redirect that energy effectively for real change.
Getting mad after the fact and climbing some tree when you didn’t participate in established venues for protest is ridiculous. No one takes it seriously. It’s like whining about the president when you didn’t vote. UCSC students must not reduce their credibility by being lazy about their activism and failing to use processes established to field criticism. For instance, if we had gotten five thousand, or about a third, of UCSC students or parents to comment negatively on the draft LRDP before it went to the Regents, it might not be happening.