With summer approaching, what will happen to the current encampments that seek an end to ties to genocide?

By Michael Albert

The events now happening on campuses are profoundly uplifting, ethically inspiring, and strategically wise. As I write, thirty-eight U.S. College campuses have encampments, with one in France and two in Australia. That is inspiring news for Palestine and for the world as well. On campus and off we should all celebrate the encampments, emulate the students building them, and as we are able try to aid their diversification and spread. Students are teaching. Let’s all learn from them.

No Justice No PEace! sign on tent at pro peace rally on university campus

But, just around the bend, just down the road barely a fraction of an inch into the future, there looms a Bold Marauder that each year cripples campus movements. This student devouring devil is named Summer. And so a question arises, how to extend momentum through the summer and into a welcoming Fall.

I have experienced two broad categories of answer to this strategic challenge. They are not arcane. Maybe there are others as well. First, I have known and been among students who left campus upsurge and returned to their hometowns—to continue. Second, I have known and been among students who stayed on campus, to make it their hometown—and continue. I hope there is, if it hasn’t already begun, soon a discussion among student activists of how to maintain momentum conducted during time off from the many encampment tasks. Perhaps even collectively conducted as an encampment task.

For students who leave campus, the prevalent historical approach has been to plug into efforts already underway at home. This year, for example, that would presumably be cease-fire seeking efforts, Palestine-aiding efforts, Fascism-blocking efforts (which logically needs to include Biden-electing (not celebrating, not supporting, but electing) efforts, ecological planet protecting efforts, and/or aiding everything from housing to income to union building struggles that may already be under way in one’s home town, as well as organizing among fellow students from other campuses who live in your hometown, and among high school students there as well to prepare for Fall coast to coast. But whatever emerges on students’ home fronts, I would like to spend just a minute commenting on the stay-on-campus option.

I have experienced two main avenues of on-campus activism that continued through the summer that I it might prove useful to discuss as possible pursuits. The first is really simple. It is just to pursue the home town possibilities mentioned above and elaborated and refined however students choose, but in this case seeing your college town and college campus like you would see your home town and old friends and household were you to go there. However, there is an interesting difference.

Suppose a whole lot of students were to agree as their priority to stay on campus, or quite nearby, so as to continue their activism through this coming summer. The Bold Marauder tamed. Perhaps off-campus residents could invite those who want to stay in town but will need housing to share their space. Indeed, perhaps movements could demand that administrations open dorms for activists during the summer. Or given Summer weather many places, perhaps encampments might continue with added community support. Some outdoor living might exploit the Bold Marauder heat. Then perhaps those able to be on campus for the summer might initiate a greater level of outreach to the surrounding communities for consciousness raising and to aid mobilizing of the sorts mentioned in the prior paragraph. And then there is yet another on-campus summer option that would have different potential.

Current encampments seek an end to ties to genocide. Okay, one summer on-campus agenda might be twofold. Recognize that military spending per se is a tie to genocide. Fossil fuel investing per se is a tie to genocide. Teaching greed is a tie to genocide. And so on. So, perhaps educate and prepare materials to augment the scope of focus in the Fall. This might be undertaken not only to address additional evils, but also to greatly strengthen the power of the Palestine focus which would gain a threat of proliferating into additional anti-systemic activism that the powers that be—including your college’s Board of Trustees and donors—will consider an additional cost of their not negotiating, or their not themselves demanding Ceasefire.

But also, while winning a college’s “divestment” from Israel’s war on Palestine and indeed ending that war continues to be sought, what about also seeking a change in campus structure so that such horrendous choices would not arise in the first place. What about using Summertime not for easy living but for some brainstorming that thinks through the issue of campus decision making? What about proposing a set of aims for the college itself, for example for who should make policy, with what level of say. As but one possible example of what might emerge, how about thinking through a re-structuring that would dramatically reduce administrators’ say to no more than that of any other campus worker, and that simultaneously dramatically elevates student and faculty to have similar say.

What about welcoming all who went home for Summer back in the Fall ready with visions and plans and even possible demands to make for re-conceived college education and college decision making? What about bringing Democracy to Campuses, or even bringing Self Management for all to Campuses and bringing as well innovative proposals for curriculum, teaching, grading, and even sharing resources with residents of surrounding communities? Perhaps that is a plausible college research and planing focus for a really productive movement-growing Ceasefire Summer, Education Summer, Freedom Summer, or Liberation Summer. The Bold Marauder buried.

In any case, Summer is coming. How to benefit from it rather than be demolished by it will be, I hope, a matter for serious consideration. It may not work, but it may. And think of the upside if it does.

“I can UNDERSTAND pessimism, but I don’t BELIEVE in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical EVIDENCE. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give HOPE, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only POSSIBILITY.”

—Howard Zinn

P.S. Bold Marauder is an incredible, hauntingly mesmerizing song of resistance from way back when by Richard and Mimi Farina. Here are the lyrics…but you need to hear it, to fully appreciate it.

It’s hi, ho, hey

I am the bold marauder

And hi, ho, hey

I am a white destroyer

For I will bring you silver and gold

And I will bring you treasure

And I will bring a widowing flag

And I will be your lover

And I will show you grotto and cave

And sacrificial altar

And I will show you blood on the stone

And I will be your mentor

And night will be our darling

And fear will be our name

It’s hi, ho, hey

I am the bold marauder

And hi, ho, hey

I am the white destroyer

For I will lead you out by the hand

And lead you to the hunter

And I will show you thunder and steel

And I will be your teacher

Then we will dress in helmet and sword

And dip our tongues in slaughter

And we will sing a warrior’s song

And lift the praise of murder

And Christ will be our darling

And fear will be our name

It’s hi, ho, hey

I am the bold marauder

And hi, ho, hey

I am the white destroyer

For I will sour the winds on high

And I will soil the river

And I will burn the grain in the field

And I will be your mother

And I will go to ravage and kill

And I will go to plunder

And I will take a Fury to wife

And I will be your father

And death will be our darling

And fear will be our name