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The 3/14 City Desk blurb reporting on the March 7 action at the control board offices by University of the District of Columbia (UDC) students and supporters implied that the action was a failure because it was not a repeat of last year’s Connecticut Avenue blockade. In addition, the article suggested that the involvement of groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO), with its “clenched-fist symbol” and radical politics, is more hindrance than help in the movement to save UDC.
On the second point first, it should be noted that many of those whose rights are under attack by the state have little problem identifying with the “clenched fist,” which is a traditional symbol of the power behind organizing in the defense of one’s interests. In addition, ISO is only one of many groups in a growing coalition of activists and supporters rallying to the cause of UDC.
On Washington City Paper’s other point: Sure, the students could go out and block Connecticut Avenue again, but there are many other forms of meaningful resistance. In the past year, the UDC coalition has sponsored public forums and rallies on and off campus, confronted the university president, board of trustees, and representatives of the White House at public meetings, and met with officials behind closed doors to voice their concerns. The City Paper may find it easy to snipe at the movement from the sidelines because we haven’t shut down the city yet, but one must appreciate how difficult it is to mobilize such a mass movement among a group of disheartened, disenfranchised, and unorganized people who also have to worry about the workaday problems of attending class, doing homework, taking exams, and (as is the case for many of UDC’s students) working a job and raising a family.
The City Paper would serve the UDC students and the DC community better by reporting on these aspects of UDC, as well as educating the city on the unique role UDC plays to every resident’s benefit as the country’s only urban land grant university. If you really want to inform the community about the movement at UDC, interview the student leaders and do a feature on what people are doing every day to fight for the university; don’t just focus on media-hyped events like the Connecticut Avenue protest.
via the Internet