Fists aloft, their placards shredded by the rain and wind, they marched to the front doors and were welcomed to the fold. As they walked inside they joined a carnival: students hawking petitions, writing letters to state legislators, registering to vote, making posters. In an auditorium, a professor wearing a white armband was urging them on, and somebody was walking by them with a megaphone.
UMass-Amherst, a 25,000-student school with a history of campus activism, once again played the Berkeley of the Pioneer Valley this week, this time with a campuswide student strike to protest budget cuts and increased fees.
While the strike did not get much more than cursory notice among policymakers on Beacon Hill, it has left a legacy on this campus: students, in large part supported by administrators and faculty, seem to be politically energized and dedicated to activism as never before.