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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Riots just burn and destroy the cause

Protesting increased tuition rates and state funding cuts for university teaching, an estimated 52,000 students marched through London on Nov. 11. However, reportedly 500 rioters, who smashed into the Conservative Party headquarters and occupied the roof of the building, usurped the peaceful protest. Typical violence ensued; burning of anything torchable, breaking of anything breakable, and busting of anyone who could be busted. Rioters pelted items from the roof at both protesters and police. At the end of the day a dozen or more were injured and twice as many were arrested.

The majority of students arrived to protest without the intent of violence. Those who rioted were seen as many to be anarchists or hijackers of the event. Yet, those on the roof claimed to be “in opposition to the mercerization of education pushed through by the coalition government.”

The cause of the student unrest is from the British government’s plans to allow universities to charge annual tuition fees of up to £9,000, approximately $14,400, starting in 2012. That’s a possible increase of 300 percent, when compared to the last increase at UH, 3.95 percent.

As many reading this are aware, plenty of students on this side of the Atlantic are against tuition hikes as well.

In March and May, students protested in Austin and California against tuition increases, but this is probably a faint memory for many. Plenty of students protested at major sites, yet, the protest held on the UH campus wasn’t even 100 strong, much less the entire campus body of over 35,000. Although, to the credit of UH students, they have yet to smash windows or occupy rooftops in a violent act of rioting.

Let’s face it: the rioters at the London protest were comparable to toddlers having a hissy fit. They had little tact or direction and no substance. These are the people who look at a peaceful protest as a waste of time, viewing rioters as a bunch of naive morons waving signs in front of a building for a few hours, only to return home feeling accomplished even though everyone inside the office carries on business as usual.

Even if this viewpoint is true, that doesn’t mean there is only one alternative of breaking windows and busting heads. Also, that doesn’t mean rioting is somehow more effective; as a matter of fact, it’s less effective.

Rioting gives the opposing side ammunition to quell any type of further protest, be it peaceful and valid or aggressive and unfounded. It validates the opposition by allowing them to be the victim and reduces the validity of anyone not on their side. The act of a riot does nothing to change policy or opinion, so if those are the intended results, rioters fail to accomplish them.

Rioters only accomplish the physical satisfaction of broken windows and burned cars – material objects that those in power are only too happy to replace.

Not that we have to worry about that here, since American students only seem to riot when an opposing sports team wins.

David Haydon is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected].

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