Cathy Davidson makes excellent points about the UC Davis situation and how higher education should respond in general:
I keep hearing the arguments that universities have to call in the police to protect the students, that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure. That’s almost comical when you teach at Duke where “tenting” is one of our most venerable student traditions. A tent-city called K-Ville has been thriving since 1986. Krzyzewskiville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krzyzewskiville) is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke basketball games.
A few years ago, my students and I even looked at the community rules and community standards for K-Ville in order to understand self-organizing community groups, constitutions, and regulation. You can read the university’s own evolving rules for this extraordinary phenomenon here: http://www.kville.info/ If K-Ville can thrive safely, securely, and with proper sanitation even in the heat of winning and losing basketball championships, for a quarter of a century, so can a well-organized group of students fighting for their education, for better funding for their university, and for their future.
I would point out, by way of extending Davidson’s points, that the political activism of the Occupy movement is exactly what faculty want of their students: engagement with the world, thoughtfulness in building that engagement, and action arising from that engagement. After decades of complaints about student apathy, a generation steps forward to make its voice heard and is promptly pepper-sprayed.