In part this is bad headline writing:
Drunk tank no place for students - groupIn part it's a failure on the reporter's part to put the issue in broader context. But mostly it's the student activist's narrow world view. Had he questioned the use of drunk tanks as a safe policing means, regardless of who is getting arrested, he'd probably get listened to. People generally are open to at least discussing safety issues.
Instead, he comes off as an elitist: students are too good for the drunk tank. Sorry, that won't carry weight in public opinion. If the drunk tank is good enough for Buddy from the Sackville trailer park, than it's good enough for Susie from Fenwick Tower.