Monday, September 29, 2008

Where Have All the Protests Gone?

Student protests are a tricky subject. On one hand, they are the archetype of student political engagement thanks to their popularity in the 60's. On the other hand, they are not seen too often these days, or if they do occur, they are not very prominent. In a recent Washington Post article, one graduate student says:
My sense is that nobody feels they can make a difference in the same way that students did in 1968.
From personal experience, I tend to think that the issue is not so much one of disenchantment with the political system itself as much as a question of strategy. Protests have lost their avant-garde status. Students would rather spend their time developing their philosophical beliefs or seeking to reform the system from the inside rather than protesting from the outside. But what is your opinion? Are student protests a relic of the past that should no longer define student political engagement? Or are they a worthwhile venture that can teach students about the political process and effect change? If they are the latter, what kinds of protests are most valuable?

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