The students behind the occupation of a NYU student center cafeteria saw their protest end quickly this afternoon when, after university authorities disabled the students’ Internet access, they no longer could access their blogs to update their demands. The Times’ City Room blog recounted the events:
[NYU senior and cafeteria occupant Banu] Quadir… said that about two dozen students inside the dining room woke up Friday morning to find that electricity and Wi-Fi had been cut off.
At the invitation of school officials, she said, five of the students from the dining room went to a different part of the building to negotiate with a senior vice provost and others from the school administration. Not long afterward, she said, she received a text message from one of those students reading, “they are suspending us and not allowing us to return to you guys.” Not long after that, Ms. Quadir said, “we saw guards rushing both sets of barricades.”
Until the Internet blackout, the students had been updating their website, TakeBackNYU.com, as well as student media site NYU Local, with news of their demands, terms of negotiation, and events to support the protest. While there is no conclusive link between the blackout and the students’ surrender, it does appear as though the protesters lost much of their (non-violent) ammunition when the Internet went out. The occupation gained increased press after media was disseminated online, including videos from inside the dining hall as well as photos of topless sympathizers the Feminist Ninjas, who appeared at a public rally. In today’s world of protests conducted via Twitter feeds and blog posts, one wonders what the occupations of ’68 might have looked like if the protesters had BlackBerries.