Student activism is on the move, and it's making a comeback. I have witnessed this movement firsthand this year on my own college campus. As some of you may know, I attend UC Santa Cruz, a university that prides itself on its own background in activism and radical politics. Though the university administration has its own ideas about what is acceptable from student activism, through my attendance here I have come into contact with many different types of political action ranging the full spectrum of issues. In this school year alone, UCSC has been a massive protest site going up against proposed tuition hikes, and students have occupied an administrative building and shut down a highway! About a week ago, the UC announced a tuition freeze for the next two years. The student activism at all the UC's paid off!!
However, what I find most interesting is that the UC students aren't the only ones protesting. According to this article (which is an excellent read), over 160 student protests took place across the U.S. during the fall semester (quarter) of 2014 alone! Most of them were rooted in issues of sexual assault and violence or issues of university governance and student's rights. It's not just college students either! High school students have been making a stir with their own protest recently too, including fighting against sexist dress codes and getting involved with the strike that happened here at UCSC in March.
Students across the country are standing up against corrupt administrations and poor treatment of their peers. Our generation isn't happy with the the way things are being run - so of course we're going to protest it! Rallies, protests, occupations, and marches on the UC Santa Cruz campus this year have centered around a myriad of issues, ranging from divestment to tuition hikes to racism and class warfare. Experts cited in the article above posit that "there is something of a movement" afoot. Hell yeah, there's a movement! Many of my fellow students have engaged in at least one instance of activism or civil disobedience this year. Casual conversations in my friend groups often turn to discussions of politics and all the problems we see in the world. In a time of uncertain futures and anxiety over things like climate change and potential societal collapse (thanks, NASA), it's extremely difficult for students not to be concerned with the greater issues of the world.
Some say that young people activate because they are idealistic, but the attitude I've observed in many of my colleagues is that we activate because we have to. If we don't stand up for the rights of the people and the planet, then who will? Those in power seem to be failing us, and students are increasingly frustrated with the way things are run as well as their lack of power to make change. Many students know that the world needs to change, and it seems like it's up to us to change it.
If things keep up the way they've been going, we will have some serious revolution on our hands. The UC Administration has agreed to freeze tuition hikes for two more years, and protests against racism and sexual violence on college campuses are gaining those issues some serious attention. The U.S. Department of Education is investigating 94 colleges for violation of Title IX, UC Santa Cruz among them. This is just the beginning of what we can and are going to do.
So, what does all this mean for you? I'll tell you what it means to me: get out there, get active, and create radical change. Start thinking about how the world could be different and better, and start talking to your friends about those things too. Get involved with causes you care about. Join the crowds in protests, but also come up with solutions and new ideas and work towards them. The last thing we want is a power vacuum when we finally dismantle corrupt university and governmental administrations. Join organizations and conversations. Put yourself out there, speak up, and get involved. The more voices are added to the cause, the more power we as students gain. Join the revolution!