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What’s March 4 Looking Like So Far?
Reports from the field are still scattered and incomplete, but a picture of the March 4 Day of Action is beginning to come into focus.
Dozens of campuses are reporting rallies and actions, and dozens more have announced plans for forums, teach-ins, and other events. I’ve learned of a number of actions that weren’t on my national map as of last night, and there are surely more I haven’t heard about yet. This is big.
California is clearly leading the way, as it has since this movement began to bubble up last semester. The biggest, best-organized, and most dramatic actions reported so far are all happening in the Golden State.
In part that’s a reflection of the depth of the crisis facing California higher education right now, but it’s also a reflection of the head start that California’s campus organizers have compared to the rest of the country. Almost every campus reporting huge demonstrations today has seen multiple rallies and protests over the last few months. (The California schools that have not been active before today are generally reporting actions that resemble those taking place in the rest of the nation.)
This gap between the ten or fifteen most active California campuses and the hundred or so others taking part in today’s events suggests that for many activists today is a beginning rather than a culmination, and indeed students at more than a few campuses have portrayed today’s rallies as kickoff events for upcoming campaigns.
Students are looking to jump-start their local movements today, and with some traditionally quiet campuses reporting participation measuring in the hundreds of students, they may have done just that.
Last September’s co-ordinated protests at the ten campuses of the University of California system were followed by a statewide lull that lasted for several weeks — it was not until November that the state’s organizing began to pick up momentum. But I will be surprised if the aftermath of today’s protests follows a similar pattern.
Students from coast to coast are feeling their power today. They are envisioning themselves as part of a movement, many for the first time. The next few hours will no doubt be very interesting, but I expect that the days and weeks that follow will be too.