Op-Ed: AU Should Ban Protesting in Academic Buildings
One writer’s opinion on the limits of protesting
On Nov. 24, 2014, a grand jury voted not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, Caucasian police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of African-American Michael Brown. Shortly after the verdict, protests erupted around the country. I happened to see protests everywhere, but there was one that really infuriated me, and it was here at AU. Last year, on the first day of classes after the verdict, I was watching a movie with my third-world literature class, and we weren’t able to focus, due to the fact that students were running down the hallway throughout the entire period, shouting, “No Justice, No Peace.”
I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If people feel that the grand jury rendered a racially-biased verdict, and Darren Wilson should have received further prosecution, then they have every right to go through the appropriate means. Interrupting people who are trying to get an education is not an appropriate means of protest. If students want to protest on the Quad, outside of Katzen or on the sports fields when there is not a game, they have every right to do so. However, students are paying tens of thousands of dollars annually to attend AU, and no one has the right to interrupt them from acquiring that education. Students protesting during class is interrupting.
AU should initiate a policy that allows students to protest wherever on campus they want, just as long as it doesn’t interrupt any major function of the school. In my opinion, these functions include classes, sports, studying and sleeping. The issue is not at all whether Darren Wilson should be convicted of shooting Michael Brown; the issue is how people go about expressing their views. Violations of this rule should be dealt with the same way as noise complaints. When I was in Manhattan over winter break, I saw people in Times Square protesting the verdict, and I wasn’t bothered by it, because they weren’t impeding anyone from living their life. The purpose of a protest should be to put political pressure on an organization to change, not to try to annoy people so they will be coerced into listening to you.