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Student Activism - OConnor 1 Mary OConnor Ms Amanbeyeva...

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Mary O’Connor Ms. Amanbeyeva English 110 15 October 2007 Students and Activism; Hand in Hand There are aspects of every decade that stand out to define it. The 1960’s are often linked to revolution and rebellion, largely stemming from the American University. Thoughts of sit-ins, protests, and rallies come to mind when one pictures scenes of Berkeley in the late 1960’s. Today, student activism is gaining way again. Organizations inspired by those of the 1960’s are reforming. Similarly, protests for peace, and ending the war are becoming more common on our university campuses. The student activists of the 1960’s inspired the activism seen on today’s American college campuses. There are many links between the student activists of the 1960’s and those of today. The things that attract students to activism haven’t changed. Young people are drawn to activism upon arriving at college because they are searching for a sense of self, because they are coming into an age of responsibility, and because they are for the first time finding people with similar views as themselves. Conditions of America contribute to making activists of students, students feel expected and compelled to fight wrongs. Whatever the economic, political, social or psychological climate, societies count on their young adults to identify and confront what has grown outdated, superfluous or hypocritical. In the United States, college students have been playing that role in one form or another for the past several generations-regardless O’Connor 1
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of the evils they choose to attack. (Vellela 219) College, for many is the first opportunity students will have to express their opinions, their first opportunity to become activists in their own right. In the 1960’s the emergence of a new wave of political radicalism came rising out of the American university. The New Left was comprised mostly of college students who desired to combat social injustice of almost any kind. The New Left was focused on generating a social revolution; they intended to make great changes all over the world by promoting peace and social equality. Coming from The New Left ideas an” organization named Students for a Democratic Society, or the SDS, materialized. The SDS focused mainly on the Vietnam War, free speech, and civil-rights. They were non-violet, relying on civil disobedience to make their points, and the most active and effective organization of student activists of their time (Wikipedia par. 7-12). The SDS disbanded at the end of the 1960’s, but its radicalism has inspired students of today to reform a new student activist group under the same name. The issues that The New Left and the SDS focused on lost ground as the Vietnam War crisis gained way. Protesting the war became the most important issue for almost every student organization of that generation, with the exception of groups devoted specifically to civil-rights issues.
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