Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately.
The extent of student fortitude was mapped out in a natural experiment conducted at New York University last week, when students vowed to occupy a student center around the clock (it normally closes at 11 p.m.) until their demands for a meeting with the board of trustees were met. A photo in the Village Voice showed seated students blocking access by taking up most of the space on a stairway. The underlying ideals appeared to be the usual dog’s breakfast of progressive fancies — something about divesting from fossil fuels, and also allegations of unfair labor practices.
NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”