Top Ten Activist Campuses

Compiled by Mother Jones

 
1. SUNY/CUNY (New York) As police sprayed tear gas on 10,000 students
protesting cuts outside New York's City Hall, Mayor Giuliani suggested
they put away their placards and "find a job for the day." Students
from the State University of New York and the City University of New
York pressured legislators to reduce their initial budget cuts. But
that probably won’t silence students, who are still stuck with a
$750-a-year tuition hike, the state’s largest ever.

2. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN (Madison, Wis.) When grates began appearing
around outdoor heating ducts last winter, students saw it for what it
was: a cold-shoulder treatment to the homeless. Administrators said
the homeless- who sleep next to the ducts for warmth—create a
menacing environment. Students claimed the university just wanted to
hide the homeless problem from potential students and parents. Two
months later, after the protests, the grates were removed.

3. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES Students unsuccessfully
fought Prop. 187 (which cuts health care and education for illegal
immigrants) with voter-registration drives (UC students registered
about 15,000 people). When 187 passed, students pressured the
university to listen to them-and ignore the law. The UCLA chancellor
agreed, pending legal battles.

4. MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY (East Lansing, Mich.) When Gov. John
Engler said he would end the Indian tuition -waiver program, breaking
a 60-year-old treaty that promised generations of Indians a free
education in exchange for land, MSU students chanted "Promises Made,
Promises Kept," at rallies and organized a campaign. In response,
legislators re-authorized the program, which supported 2,700 students
statewide last year. (But Engler promises to cut the waiver in 1996.)

5. UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Students system wide fought successfully to
save a course subject taught virtually nowhere else-the Hawaiian
language. "We're not asking for more money," said language student and
lecturer Laiana Wong. “We’re saying don’t take any away.”
They didn’t.

6. CORNELL UNIVERSITY (Ithaca, N.Y.) After a professor posted fliers
advertising "treatment programs" for homosexuals, activists staged a
sit-in near his office. While they let the fliers hang, students
organized public dialogues about free speech.

7.RUTGERS UNIVERSITY (New Jersey) Students demanded the ouster of
President Francis L. Lawrence after he remarked that African-Americans
lack the "genetic hereditary background" to score well on college
entrance exams. Protests-including a takeover of a nationally
televised Rutgers basket-ball game—drew national attention. While
Rutgers' board backed the president (who made repeated public
apologies), it also adopted a student-faculty task force’s plan to
ease racial tensions.

8. ANTIOCH COLLEGE (Yellow Springs, Ohio) Activists at this
600-student school picketed John Kasich, GOP chair of the House Budget
Committee, for student-aid cuts. After an ugly protest at Kasich's
state office (police were heavy-handed with tear gas), professors
provided class time on nonviolent protest.

9. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA (Chapel Hill, N.C.) Youngsters at five
area Head Start schools get one-on-one lessons from UNC
volunteers. Students at Chapel Hill (home to the national Student
Coalition for Action in Literacy Education) also tutor homeless
families, autistic children, and adults learning English as a second
language.

10. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO (Boulder, Colo.) After launching demands
for a more ethnically diverse curriculum in dramatic fashion-a hunger
strike—students gained a major in comparative ethnic studies for
the first time, and a student-faculty task force wrote a plan to
increase diversity among teaching staff.
 
HONORABLE MENTIONS: At the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, students protested a
Gainesville redevelopment plan that would have doubled rents. BRADFORD
COLLEGE students in Bradford, MA, blocked administrators' attempts to
keep transgender activist Leslie Feinberg from delivering a
commencement address. And in Canada, UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA students
pelted a government official with eggs and macaroni (eggs and
macaroni?) when steep cuts in higher education were announced.

-by Leslie Weiss. First appeared in the September, 1995 issue of
Mother Jones. Reprinted with the permission of Mother Jones.  

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