From the May-June 2017 issue of News & Letters
by Natalia Spiegel
Thousands of students in Puerto Rico took to the streets at the end of March and beginning of April to denounce proposed government cutbacks to higher education and official corruption. At a massive meeting in San Juan on April 6, thousands of students voted for an indefinite student strike against government austerity programs.
* * *
Hunter Bailey, a 17-year-old Bellevue, Mich., high school student, committed suicide on April 1. At a vigil over 250 people expressed a sense of loss. His friends decided to write messages to Bailey on a pole on school grounds near where he used to park. The next day the school’s superintendent ordered all the messages painted over. Students and parents were enraged. More messages were written on the pole and were erased again. Then on April 10, dozens of students boycotted classes. Parents have joined the protest. As one student put it, all they wanted was a memorial to honor their friend.
* * *
On April 10, students at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, hung a banner denouncing racism and sexism on the campus and over 100 participated in a sit-in. Their central demand was that all persons in a position of authority complete diversity training before school resumes in the autumn. Around 11:00 AM, a group of students occupied a hallway in the main campus building and vowed to remain until the end of the day. The action was caused in part by a history professor who twice used the n-word in class. The college responded, stating they would review the document and they respected the student’s right to protest peacefully.
* * *
Students at the University of North Texas (UNT) rallied on March 6 to demand that UNT be made a sanctuary campus to stop ICE if they attempted to make arrests. The University president met with students and faculty concerned about ICE raids and agreed that the university would not permit ICE agents on campus without getting the administration’s permission, consent of the campus police force, and a warrant to conduct searches and arrests.