A New Age of Activism

Story by Jillian Gronnerud


The last week of January marked a two-year anniversary for the initial Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Feb. 14 also marks one year since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that prompted the nationwide March For Our Lives.

In the years since, political demonstrations have surged in frequency across the nation and even across continents — swelling popularity among one demographic in particular. A growing number of young people (high school and college students in particular) are showing up in droves to participate and even to organize some of these demonstrations set on capturing the the world’s attention and, in many cases, they are succeeding.

“I think that if we don’t stand for what is right and don’t protest or voice our opinions, then we are complicit in the wrongs in our world,” said Sarah Cassell, a 22-year-old political science major at UC Berkeley who participates regularly in demonstrations. “Plus, getting out there lets you meet more like-minded people ready to change the world.”

A valuable part of the college experience for many students is having a space to grapple with existing opinions and ideas about the world, and to set about solidifying their own. Times of social and political tensions generate the sparks that precede calls for action and change, but it takes more than just swirling ideas for movements to catch fire.

A 2016 survey of undergraduate students conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research program at UCLA “found that 1 in 10 [students] expected to partake in protests while in college, the highest rate since 1967,” which marked the height of the Vietnam War.

It is not just the number of people taking to the streets for change that should spark optimism for the future, but the amount of work being done by college students behind-the-scenes as well. Places of higher education across the country have seen shifts in applicant statistics when it comes to those who are interested in participating in some form of activism during their college years. The time has come and gone for adults to dictate and moderate the issues being discussed by younger generations.

Their time — our time — is now.

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