Cole, Juan


Juan Cole’s column appears every other Tuesday on Truthdig. He is a celebrated Mideast scholar and the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

How Students Landed on the Frontlines of Class War

By Juan Cole

The deliberate pepper-spraying by campus police of nonviolent protesters at UC Davis on Friday has provoked national outrage. But the horrific incident must not cloud the real question: What led comfortable, bright, middle-class students to join the Occupy protest movement against income inequality and big-money politics in the first place?

The University of California system raised tuition by 9 percent this year, and the California State University system upped tuition by 12 percent. The UC system is seriously contemplating a humongous 16 percent tuition increase for fall 2012. This year, for the first time, the amount families pay in UC tuition will exceed state contributions to the university system.

University students, who face tuition hikes and state cuts to public education, find themselves victimized by the same neoliberal agenda that has created the current economic crisis, and that profoundly endangers democratic values.