BOSTON—The now-monthlong invasion carried out by more than 200,000 college students who bombarded this normally quiet, historic city has forced native Bostonians to relinquish their rights as citizens and settle into a new life under occupation.
"This was clearly a highly coordinated operation that had been in the planning stages for months, and in some cases, years," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who has urged calm among the city’s residents. "I regret not reading the warning signs when thousands of them showed up last spring, scouting our highest-profile sites. But Bostonians are a resilient bunch, and we will do what we can to carry on with our lives as normal."
With a convoy of U-Hauls containing supplies that will likely sustain them at least until the start of the holiday season, the students first took over the streets of nearby Cambridge. After gaining control of residential areas in Harvard and Kenmore Squares, they crossed the Charles River into the city’s administrative and financial-aid centers, seizing control of the waterways and Boston’s Green and Red subway lines. Student infiltration of technical laboratories and research facilities in the downtown area all but ensured that they would be able to subvert and eventually dominate the communication and engineering capabilities of this city of 600,000.
"These are highly motivated young people, some of them from foreign countries, with the resources and the desire to take over entire industries," Menino said. "And there’s no doubt they were working with someone on the inside to get this kind of access."
With their concentration in liberal-arts colleges spreading from a centralized location to the outlying suburban areas, the students have made certain that they will maintain a constant presence in all parts of the city.
"There are just too many of them," said 59-year-old Somerville native Jonathan Walsh, who admitted that his tiny militia’s tactics of eye-rolling, scoffing, and yelling from their cars at the occupiers has been a useless attempt to stifle the blitz. "They’ve completely taken over the restaurants, the parks, the concert halls, everything. It doesn’t feel like this is our city anymore."
"I can’t even walk around at night," said 34-year-old Jamaica Plain–born Meagan Gallagher, who added that she must now show her ID before gaining entry to "any little bar in the city," since the students arrived. "And with them getting discounts on movies, food, and books, it’s like I’m a second-class citizen."
The invaders have also managed to effectively take control of the airwaves, subjecting the natives to an eclectic mix of experimental, discordant music, and long, drawn-out political manifestos.
"Over and over again, it’s the same strange songs and public-service announcements," said East Boston resident Joe Kirkpatrick, 57. "It’s torture, in a way, is what it is."
Other residents are complaining that the invading forces, far from merely being a nuisance, are standing in the way of their basic constitutional rights to life and liberty.
Matthew Soisson, 39-year-old husband and father of four, said he was forced out of his three-bedroom home by the vastly better-funded students. "I don’t know where it’s coming from, but some outside source is funneling money to these groups," Soisson said. "Who can compete with that kind of spending?"
Added Soisson: "Things were just so much more peaceful before they showed up."
Reports indicate that Soisson may not see a decline in student numbers in the near future: While many are scheduled to return home in May, a fresh group of newly enlisted students will likely be deployed to relieve them in the fall.