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Are Recent Student Protests Aimed at the Right People?

It suddenly feels like the 1960s on college campuses. That's the conclusion of an Inside Higher Ed piece that examines the recent, sharp uptick in...


It suddenly feels like the 1960s on college campuses. That's the conclusion of an Inside Higher Ed piece that examines the recent, sharp uptick in student activism at American universities.Okay, it's not exactly the 1960s. There haven't been any armed takeovers, as happened at Cornell University 40 years ago when a group of African-American students stormed its student union to protest a dearth of minority programs on campus. However, an action reminiscent of that took place in early November at the University of Maryland, College Park. Hundreds of students marched to the periphery of the school's main administration building to show their anger at the firing of a popular provost for equity and diversity.The cause of the provost's getting the axe is a problem plaguing school systems nationwide: financial cuts. Colleges and universities have been hit hard by the tough economic climate, well beyond the beating Harvard's hefty endowment is taking (to the tune of it being unable to offer some of its law students free tuition).California is ground zero: The state recently announced a 32 percent tuition hike at its public universities, sparking a top-to-bottom uproar that includes students mobbing the administration building at UC-Davis, a multiple-day sit-in at UCLA, and classroom takeovers in Berkeley. Elsewhere, students at SUNY-Geneseo camped out on the upstate New York school's quad for three days to show their anger toward cuts to higher education proposed in anew budget by unpopular governor David Paterson.The Inside Higher Ed piece hits on an interesting question, which came up yesterday at a panel sponsored by the Center for American Progress: Should students be protesting their state governments rather than their school's administrations?That's the argument from an administrator at UC Washington Center, a California system-affiliated campus located in D.C., who notes that after all, it's the latter that's actually cutting much-needed funds to the schools, claims. Victor Sanchez, a senior at UC Santa Cruz and the president of the University of California Student Association, argues that both are to blame, asserting that mismanagement of the part of school administrators helped to create the current conundrums.Who do you think is right?Photo from Flickr user Epioles (cc)
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