Different social movements sweeping across college campuses have been in the news as of late. As people come together to focus on a common goal, it is important to look at some of the social movements that have made an impact on history as well. Though they focused on different things, all of these movements have one thing in common: students coming together to push for awareness or action on an issue that is of the utmost importance to them. Here are but a few of the instances where college students brought about awareness and change.
In 1968, a three day sit in occurred at the academic building of the University of Georgia to protest the unequal treatment of males and females. Females had a stricter dress code and curfew, and they were banned from drinking or living off campus, which males were free to do. More protests occurred as the events at Kent State brought about alarm, and over the next four years the military building on campus was targeted as students unsuccessfully attempted to burn it to the ground.
Gay Rights Protests on Campuses
As the fight for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights were going on, so was the fight for Gay Rights. “By 1973 some 800 gay organizations existed; most were based in big cities and on university campuses.” The main goal of these organizations was to create a safe environment for people, but many groups also went further to lobby local officials to pass statutes like those for minority groups, women, and African Americans that would stop them from being discriminated against. Unfortunately, it was still a largely taboo subject and many people considered it to be an unacceptable lifestyle due to religious beliefs, causing their successes to be limited. However, many of the goals that the organizations were working towards have finally happened.
In March of 2014, President Obama was considering the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Though many different students from colleges and universities all over the country came to participate, students from Georgetown University headed the protest event. On the way to the White House fence, “they stopped at Secretary Kerry's house and unfurled a giant mock oil spill in the middle of the street.” They then got to the White House and spoke out to rally the crowd about the consequences of creating the pipeline. Hundreds of students were arrested, but their goal was reached when President Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline about a year later.
NYU Student Debt Protest
“NYU students in 2013 faced more debt than any other school in the nation, excluding for-profit universities.” In order to show the President of NYU, John Sexton, that he needed to do something about the debt of his students that were graduating, and to make sure that the upcoming President, Andrew Hamilton, was aware of the issues, a protest took place in Washington Square Park. Students wrote about the debt that they were going to have when they left college, using hashtags such as #YouAreNotALoan and #HamiltonGetReady. The Student Labor & Action Movement, known as SLAM, directed this event, and continued on with a teach-in event to talk to students about their loans and ways to help their financial debt situation.
The University of Missouri Fights Racism on Campus
In response to protests, hunger strikes, and a boycott by the football team of the University of Missouri, former President Tim Wolfe, resigned in November. The students believe that "Racism lives here" and that the campus is a hostile place because of both other students and administration. This protest led other colleges to also begin to stand up for what they felt was wrong with their colleges.
Claremont McKenna College Fights Insensitivity
Claremont McKenna College’s Dean of Students, Mary Spellman, resigned in November after students demanded her resignation for being insensitive about advocating for the diverse population. In an email to an undergraduate of Latino descent, “she implied that students of color “don’t fit our CMC mold.’” After student Taylor Lemmons stated that she was going to go on a hunger strike until the Dean left, Mary Spellman decided that her resignation was the best way to bring closure to the issue.
Columbia University Student Creates Awareness of Sexual Assault
Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress around everywhere she went, including graduation, to protest and create awareness for sexual assault. As a sophomore, she had allegedly been raped, but the school did not expel the student she accused. By carrying the mattress, she hoped to spark conversation and action for the victims of sexual assault.