Youth in action, July-August 2014

From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters

by Michael Gilbert

The International Student Initiative for Pluralist Economics (ISIPE), with branches in 19 countries including the U.S., rejects the uniformity of the so-called Chicago School of economists who are staunch free market advocates. The dominance of narrow free-market theories at top universities harms the world’s ability to confront financial instability and climate change. ISIPE argues that economics courses are failing wider society. The students, who formed 41 protest groups in universities from Britain and the U.S. to Brazil and Russia, say the curriculum should include analysis of the financial crash. Their manifesto states: “The lack of intellectual diversity does not only restrain education and research. It limits our ability to contend with the multidimensional challenges of the 21st century—from financial stability to food security and climate change.”

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Ché Café is a worker owned and run cooperative that has featured live music and food since 1980 at the University of California, San Diego. Recently, UCSD administration tried to shut the café. They received the support of Fox News, who hate anything associated with Ché Guevara. On May 23, the Associated Students (student government), who control student finances, voted in executive session with no public participation to deny funding to the café, effectively shutting it down. Afterwards, one of the students on the board said, “The committee was just manipulated by people who do not want the Ché Café to be at the university anymore.” The café’s supporters vowed to continue the fight and search for a new venue where they can present the kind of punk-indie-DIY music they are famous for.

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A student in Beaconsville High School in Montréal, Canada, was suspended for wearing shorts on a hot day. The student, Lindsey Stocker, put up handmade posters around the school saying: “Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.”

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Australia’s students were angered by proposed fee increases, some to be doubled or more by 2016. At the University of Sydney, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, was confronted by a group of students chanting: “No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities.” Her security team reacted with violence, dragging students down stone stairs. Chanting students also confronted education minister Christopher Pyne when he appeared on the popular television program Q&A. In the interests of true democracy, the show went off the air until security personnel removed the protestors.

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