Campus protests and their necessity to the college experience

By Jake DiPaola

Elm Staff Writer

Numbers can mean a great deal when making a point. If a group can make enough noise, there is often a large possibility that noise cannot be ignored, and change will happen. This has been a prominent idea to many students who shout for a better world and way of life on campus or for their country.

Student protests are not a new concept and have been going on for years to fight gun violence on school grounds, advocate for acceptance of all races into colleges and universities, and push for better conditions generally.

March 19, 1968, Howard University – hundreds of students sat in and took over an administrative building to protest the wrongful expulsion of nearly 40 students, according to The Hilltop.

Sept. 26, 2014, Hong Kong – thousands of students took to the streets and government buildings with yellow umbrellas to sit in as a call for democracy while using their umbrellas to shield them from the tear gas, according to The Guardian. This is similar to what is happening today with Hong Kong’s protests.

Feb. 21, 2018 – students across the United States walked out of class to protest gun violence and honor the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, according to Washington Times. The walkout lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims of the shooting.

Oct. 18, 2019, Madison West High School – students walked out to support a black security guard who was fired for mentioning a racial slur when telling black student that using said slur was wrong. The student had launched several other insults and slurs which had prompted the guard’s reprimanding of the student.

Students everywhere, past and present, have walked out, sat in, or raised signs to protest injustice, loss of freedom, and violence. However, we do not see many protests like these at Washington College. Perhaps it is a good thing we as students do not have to take over academic buildings to protest the college’s actions such as blatant racism or gun violence.

However, there are plenty of issues at hand on college campuses where student protests have been beneficial. Sometimes it takes more than words. A peaceful but powerful protest can force the changes needed when authority does not listen any longer.

A student protest is to not only try and force the hand of authority to make a change, but to show the level of commitment and disturbance the issue has caused and the number of people it affects and those who are willing to stand up and say they want a better world.

Students here at WC performed a silent protest three weeks ago to raise awareness of environmental issues and to increase support. These protests can still inspire change without making as much noise as possible like sit-ins or picket protests, but they need support and numbers. The only way any protest can make a change is with help.

The importance and strength of protests are evident, but that does not mean the whole campus needs to riot when the dining hall stops serving pizza. It does mean that if you see something heinous or wrong then there are ways to make a difference.

Keep your eyes and ears open to fellow students or classmates on the Cater Walk looking for support. They want a change and need every single person’s help they can get. Stand up for your peers when they cry out for a better world, whether its anti-campus violence, prevention of sexual assault, or environmental awareness.

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