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Student Activism at its Best

Student Activism at its Best

To show their support of diversity in higher education, hundreds, if not thousands, of students descended upon the U.S. Supreme Court on April 1, 2003, the day the Justices were to hear the University of Michigan’s cases on the use of race in college admissions.

And earlier this year, University of California students demonstrated in support of Sudan divestment on the campus of UCLA.

Just two recent examples, but like many political movements throughout this country’s history — civil rights, the Vietnam War — college students have often helped take a movement to another level. In some cases, the movement actually starts on the college campus.

Both feature articles in this edition illustrate that point.

“Celebrating 40 Years of Activism” takes a comprehensive look at the founding of Black Student Unions, the first being founded on the campus of San Francisco State College in 1966. Throughout their history, these organizations have fundamentally changed life on college campuses as we know it — socially, culturally, politically and academically.

Editorial intern Ibram Rogers, who is pursuing graduate studies in African-American studies at Temple University, takes a look at the original mission and purpose of BSUs and even catches up with some of the early founders, such as Dr. James Garrett (on the cover), who weigh in on both the history and future of these organizations.

he crisis in Sudan is all over the news these days. And although it seemed like it took some time the general public to grasp the magnitude of the situation, demonstrations like the one in Washington, D.C., in April calling on the Bush administration to intervene to stop the violence in Darfur have helped raise public awareness.

With the ongoing coverage of the dire situation in Sudan, we began reading that an increasing number of colleges and universities were divesting from companies that do business in that country. Right up to our press time, additional schools were announcing their plans to divest. It has been in large part because of the prompting and insistence of students that so many colleges have made that decision. The recent student protests conjure up memories of college students in the 1980s, who called on their college administrations to divest from companies that did business in South Africa, as a means of protesting that country’s apartheid government.

Schools divested then and schools are divesting now. However, will the recent calls for divestment be as effective as they were 20 years ago? Senior editor Christina Asquith in “Demanding Divestment From Sudan” speaks with American University professor Steve Hansch, who is somewhat skeptical. “South Africa saw itself as a cosmopolitan country that wanted to be part of the global world, and that was enough to make them give up on apartheid,” he says. Only time will tell how effective the divestment campaigns turn out to be, but one has to respect the students’ resourcefulness and dedication to raising awareness about the crisis. 

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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