Youth in Action: November-December 2022

November 11, 2022

From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters

by Buddy Bell

At the University of Florida, 300 students protested Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse as he spoke in a campus ballroom on Oct. 10. The floor was shaking and chants were audible inside, when Sasse was ushered away and continued his speech by videoconference. The retiring Sasse is the presumptive new university president, but protesters demanded that the board of trustees release the list of all 12 finalists chosen by a search committee. One student protesting the selection of Sasse told WUFT News: “I just think that his voting history, anti-affordable care act, anti-LGBTQ, climate denial in the state of Florida is kind of ridiculous. He doesn’t support the values of students or even just students in general at UF.” When addressing a student question about HB7, an anti-queer and anti-history state gag law disguised as “academic freedom” and one of the hottest issues in Florida, Sasse claimed he didn’t know about it.

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About 12,000 students across 100 high schools in the state of Virginia protested the new Republican governor’s plan to direct school districts to require parental notification if a Trans student wishes to be called by their preferred pronouns. Under this prescribed policy, teachers would be disallowed from addressing students with a gender pronoun not corresponding to the gender markers in official school records, except with a parent’s approval and legal documents reflecting the change. Ranger Balleisen, 17, of Fairfax, told Buzzfeed: “The knowledge that I wouldn’t be safe in a school, and in a school system, in a state that I thought I could be safe in was terrifying… Today’s walkout and seeing all the other schools’ walkout photos from today across the state has really made me believe that we can do this.” A public comment period on the draft policy will close at the end of October, and tens of thousands of students have already submitted comments.

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The Greek government is putting police directly on university campuses for the first time in 40 years, repealing “academic sanctuary,” one of the accomplishments of the pro-democracy uprisings which ended military rule in Greece. They have been answered by large demonstrations of university students who marched on Athens’ Constitution Square on Sept. 8 and Sept. 17. With police forces deploying chemicals to disperse crowds, demonstrators resist by throwing the canisters back at police. Protests continue around the country. For several nights in late October, police in Thessaloniki used ground fires to drive youth out of the city center.

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