ERIC Number: EJ815925
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct-17
Reference Count: 0
Is Campus Activism Dead--or Just Misguided?
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n8 pA35 Oct 2008
With the average age of college presidents a hair above 60 years old, a large portion of today's campus leaders were undergraduate or graduate students during the heightened years of protest in the 1960s and early 1970s. As a student during those protest-laden times, the author spoke out about peace, the Vietnam War, civil rights, and the status of women. But today, as a university president, he is generally disheartened at the nature of activism on campus and wonders where the campus radicals are now. One characteristic of student activism circa 2008 is that there are myriad causes that capture the attention of just a handful of students. Small groups at some colleges, for example, feel that they should be permitted to carry guns on the campus. Their national organization, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, has orchestrated a number of letter-writing campaigns and protests that involve wearing an empty holster to classes. At Penn State, those protests have gone virtually unnoticed by other students, or, if anything, earned nothing but derision. For those who were marching for freedom 40 years ago, it is undoubtedly difficult to muster a lot of emotion for causes like the empty-holster campaign. One result of this shift has been that more of today's students are pursuing degrees in professions that appear lucrative or glamorous: business, finance, public relations, and broadcasting, for example. There has been a slow but steady decline in liberal-arts majors. At the same time, there is something very good happening: an upswing in volunteerism. In this article, the author contends that a scarcity of angry protesters does not mean an absence of activism on America's college campuses. While fewer marches and angry fists pumping the air can be seen, many students are still making a difference, and that is something worth shouting about.
Descriptors: Majors (Students), Liberal Arts, Graduate Students, Campuses, Age, Civil Rights, Activism, War, Public Relations, National Organizations
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A