This post is the ninth in a series of twelve counting down the top dozen student activism stories that will be making news on the American campus in the new academic year. Follow Student Activism on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all these stories and many more!
California was the epicenter of last year’s resurgence of American student activism. Ten thousand studends marched at UC campuses on the first day of classes last fall. Students across California took over university buildings well over a dozen times. The March 4 Day of Action, the largest co-ordinated day of campus protest the nation has seen since the sixties, originated in the Golden State.
It’s not surprising that California students rose up the way they did — their state has been hit harder by the current fiscal crisis in higher education than any other, and their state government and public universities have put more of the weight of that crisis on students’ backs than any other. And California students confronted a long list of local crises last year as well, most notably a series of racist incidents that shocked and angered students across the state.
California’s institutions of higher education, confronted with this wave of righteous anger and action, moved forcefully to suppress it. Hundreds of students were arrested on California campuses last year, many of them protesting peacefully. And administrators have imposed harsh campus sanctions as well.
Many students arrested or cited during last year’s demonstrations remain in legal and administrative limbo. Increasingly, faculty and students uninvolved in the demonstrations are questioning the administration’s handling of these events.
How this conflict is resolved has profound implications for student protest in California and throughout the United States, and it’s going to be one of the biggest student activism stories on this blog and beyond in the coming year.