Institute moved to crush those who opposed it
Last Friday, MIT charged 23 of its own students with trespassing on campus and forcibly dragged them off campus and into jail. The MIT Campus Police proceeded to dismantle the shanty the students had built, while threatening to arrest the witnesses who tried to get close enough to photograph some of the most brutal handling of students by police. Students spend a lot of time on campus, and usually no one accuses them of trespassing. The real crime of the students in question was to demonstrate for divestment and to erect a shanty in front of the Stratton Student Center, in imitation of the shanties in which many blacks in South Africa are forced to live.
I learned first-hand two grim lessons on Friday. Compare the events then to similar events three years ago at Dartmouth. There, it was a group of conservative students who destroyed shanties constructed by students demonstrating for the same cause as the MIT students on Friday. Their intolerance provoked national outrage. The difference is apparently one of the seniority of the oppressors, and the first lesson is exactly that: You have to wait 20 years, and then you can squelch anyone you want.
There is another darker lesson to be learned from these events. Apparently our permission as students to enter the MIT campus depends on the good will of MIT's administration. Since we students must spend most of our lives on campus, the events of Friday suggest that we should become political eunuchs, wandering docile and flabby through our daily lives.
We live in a country where we are not supposed to have to do this. MIT has protected itself from the Constitution using the oldest trick in the book: Protest, they say, but not on "our property." Whose property? Where should students, who after all live on campus, protest? Central Square? A demonstration that does not reach those at whom it is directed cannot be effective. The lesson is this: The powerful, protected by the very ground upon which they stand, will not heed the cry of the oppressed, because they do not even have to listen.
Matthew Ando G->