Wednesday night at Ohio University, a group of protesters led by the Ohio University Student Union marched down the street and into the Baker Center, disrupting a Board of Trustees meeting with a sit-in that culminated in the arrest of 70-plus undergraduate students.
Their demand was simple and concise: Ohio University must declare itself a Sanctuary Campus.
The Sanctuary Campus struggle has been unfolding for some time now and has seen a recent surge in activity since President Trump’s victory in the November election. It has been even more active since his recent executive order concerning a ban on immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries. The designation of being a Sanctuary Campus is as much a symbolic act of working toward securing immigrant student safety on campus as it is a commitment to noncooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, should they decide to actively pursue the deportation of such students.
A protest in Berkeley paralleled the Ohio sit-in. The student-led Berkeley event was organized in opposition to far-right lecturer and Breitbart “alt-right” news site Editor Milos Yannopoulos, and the protest eventually erupted into enflamed displays of property damage.
Their demand was simple and concise: Yannopoulos’ often transphobic and inflammatory rhetoric is not welcome on their campus.
These two events are telling of one thing: Undergraduate students are ready and willing to organize and oppose the bigoted ideologies that have permeated mainstream rhetoric and executive policy since Trump has taken office. Along with this opposition, they are also ready and willing to hold their institutions, our universities, accountable in that struggle.
Though the protest methods that were used in Berkeley may not sit well with some folks on either side of the aisle, staunch opposition to the bigoted ideological demagoguery sweeping across the nation is objectively a good thing. The more actors opposing this ideology, the better. And as more actors will join these struggles, the less extreme the tactics need to be.
That said, this is why The Daily Iowan Editorial Board not only condones the actions of the Ohio University Student Union, but fully encourages future actions of the ilk. Institutions of higher education have always postured themselves as heralds of progressive, ethical politics. It is time that these universities, which exist to serve the students, also represent the students. But it is we, the students, who must push them to listen, and make enough racket to be heard.
Furthermore, the University of Iowa must take a sincere stand on the immigrant crises, and UI administrators must commit themselves to ensuring students ability to affect immigrant’s safety.