ArtLung: Joe Crawford's personal website. 2024.

Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone

The Case for Leaving Protesters Be:

We practice forbearance for a greater good. Just like a member of Congress should ask whether they are elected only to pass legislation that will help with their reelection or whether they serve a higher purpose for the good of their country, a university leader must ask whether their role is merely to keep their job or nobly serve the higher goals of the university. Would ending these protests allow all voices to be heard? Would ending these protests allow for a free exchange of ideas? Would ending these protests bring us closer to the truth? It’s hard to see how.

The alternative for our leaders is to simply wait these protesters out — even if it means life on campus is disrupted a bit because people have to show an ID to get into Harvard Yard or see and hear things they disagree with.

But being exposed to controversial views is not only the price of living in a free society — it’s also the great benefit of attending college and having your perspectives challenged. And eventually, as public attention will inevitably shift elsewhere, the reduced spotlight will make things easier on everyone.

Of course, leaders could also talk to these student protestors and hear their demands — many of which, like disclosing the University’s financial ties to companies aiding the occupation of Palestinian territories and the war in Gaza, are eminently reasonable. Why should the financial holdings of universities, places built not to maximize profits but rather to promote truth, be kept secret from their stakeholders?

People are upset, let them protest, hear them out.

Jackboots are seldom the answer.

And force is the tool of absolute last resort.

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