Sensible protest

There is a difference between fighting for what you believe in and protesting for the sake of protesting.Apparently, some UVM students are dying to have their voices heard regardless of what they’re saying.When members of Students Stand Up gathered outside of Waterman on Feb. 20 to protest the budget cuts, University President Daniel Mark Fogel sent out Vice President Richard Cate to address the students.However, according to Students Stand Up (SSU) member Avery Pittman, while they were trying to ask Cate questions, some students unaffiliated with SSU interrupted the conversation to yell generic protest phrases.I don’t know what these students are thinking.While some were trying to get some real answers as to why the executives can’t take a salary cut or why Fogel refuses to tap the endowment, while some are really trying to put these execs in the hot seat, these students are allowing the board members to dodge the spotlight by interrupting and randomly screaming popularized “death of our education” rhetoric.If you just want to rally in a crowd and scream at people, I suggest tailgating and football, not social activism. Do these students really think they can bully the UVM administration into taking salary cuts?If they want to be taken seriously, protestors and activists need to be mature and civil.It is possible.  The demonstration at Bailey/Howe Library on March 4 was just that — peaceful, informative and effective.But as Liz Lahner, another member of SSU, pointed out, there are some students that engage in behavior — such as the graffiti on the Davis Center or the proposed sit-in at Waterman — that is potentially detrimental to their cause.”We are trying to work together with staff members,” she said.That’s the difference.  Some students are trying to work with each other and faculty in order to better this University, while others are out to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of any opportunity to stick it to the man.Although they encourage support from everyone, unendorsed acts have the potential to hurt our cause, Lahner said.Those that just want to protest need to understand that there are plenty of students who will not be able to come back next year if the tuition goes up and the number of professors decreases.And there are obviously those professors that are going to lose their jobs — it’s a bit more serious for them too.No doubt, we want to show Fogel that the entire UVM community is concerned about our education, but we should do it in a manner that reflects our level of education thus far.The quantity of protesters only goes so far if the protestors are disrespecting other members of the UVM community, taking unnecessary radical measures and defacing property — it undermines and overshadows the message.There is a tendency for college students to use the banner of social activism as an excuse for debauchery and civil disobedience, which cannot be condoned by anyone on either side of this struggle.Max Harwood is a freshman English major at UVM. He has been writing for The Cynic since 2008.