Youth in Action, January-February 2017

From the January-February issue of News & Letters

 

by Natalia Spiegel

Student journalists at the University of Kentucky are being targeted by administrators after publicizing the name of a professor accused of sexual misconduct with a student. The official reason is to protect the student, but the journalists see it as a bureaucratic cover-up.

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Latin@ students at Cornell University walked out of class on Nov. 11 decrying institutional racism. They were angry that student offices for people of color are on the far edge of campus.

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Photo: http://ladiesletsgetin-formation.blogspot.com/

A dozen middle school students at Frederick County, Maryland’s Urbana Middle School protested a repressive dress code instituted by a new principal. The code mandates that girls who supposedly violated the code wear baggy yellow T-shirts over their clothes. The students turned the punishment into protest by writing on the shirts: “I am more than just a distraction” during a protest in late August of 2016. Their actions spread to students at another Frederick County public school, who pointed out that administrators are targeting girls and not boys for dress code violations. Rachel Zuniga, a student at nearby Linganore High School, started a petition against the dress code at her school because she said it promoted a “rape culture,” noting that the actions of her school amounted to blaming women for the faults of men. She pointed out that when she was raped she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a coat.

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New gender-sensitive policies at the University of Kansas permit students to wear tags that identify themselves as he, him, she, her, they or them. The policy has been attacked by right-wing columnists and politicians but the university insists on the importance of the goal of having a more welcoming campus atmosphere.

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Mass meeting of students on Sept. 30, 2016. Photo: Facebook NMMU Fees Must Fall Movement

In South Africa the administration of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), defying a mass meeting of students involved in #FeesMustFall, announced plans to reopen. Azola Dayile of #FeesMustFall said: “Students have decided that the shutdown continues because the initial demand of free education has not yet been attended to. So there is no point in going back to classes without having heard the response that we want.” #FeesMustFall protests caused final exams at a number of leading universities to be postponed or cancelled, but many schools have announced an 8% increase in tuition for the upcoming year.

 

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