Student protest

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City University of Hong Kong students staging a sit-in during 2014 Hong Kong protests over blocking of electoral reforms

Campus protest or student protest is a form of student activism that takes the form of protest at university campuses. Such protests encompass a wide range of activities that indicate student dissatisfaction with a given political or academics issue and mobilization to communicate this dissatisfaction to the authorities (university or civil or both) and society in general and hopefully remedy the problem. Protest forms include but are not limited to: sit-ins, occupations of university offices or buildings, strikes etc. More extreme forms include suicide such as the case of Jan Palach's,[1] and Jan Zajíc's protests against the end of the Prague Spring[2] and Kostas Georgakis' protest against the Greek junta of 1967–1974.[3][4][5][6][7][8][dubious ]


In the West, student protests such as strikes date to the early days of universities in the Middle Ages, with some of the earliest being the University of Oxford strike of 1209,[9][10] and the University of Paris strike of 1229, which lasted two years.

More widespread student demonstrations occurred in 19th century Europe, for example in Imperial Russia.[11] In 1930s, some Polish students protested against anti-Semitic ghetto benches legislation.[12] In the second half of the 20th century, significant demonstrations almost-simultaneously in many countries: the May 68 events in France began as a series of student strikes;[13] Polish political crisis that occurred the same year also saw a major student activism;[14] and the Mexican Movement of 1968 also started with students. The largest student strike in the history of the United States occurred in May and June 1970, in the aftermath of the American invasion of Cambodia and the killings of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. An estimated four million students at more than 450 universities, colleges and high schools participated in what became known as the Student strike of 1970.[15]

It has been argued that student strikes and activism have a similarly long history in Confucian Asia.[16]

Participation and issues[edit]

Student occupation at Cambridge University, 2010

Early studies of campus protests conducted in the United States in the mid-1960s suggested that students who were more likely to take part in the protests tended to come from middle class and upper middle class backgrounds, major in social sciences and humanities, and come from families with liberal political views.[17] Later studies from early 1970s, however, suggested that participation in protests was broader, through still more likely for students from social sciences and humanities than more vocational-oriented fields like economy or engineering.[17] Student protesters were also more likely to describe themselves as having liberal or centrist political beliefs, and feeling politically alienated, lacking confidence in the party system and public officials.[17]

Early campus protests in the United States were described as left-leaning and liberal.[17] More recent research[when?] shares a similar view, suggesting that right-leaning, conservative students and faculty are less likely to organize or join campus protests.[18] A study of campus protests in the United States in the early 1990s identified major themes for approximately 60% of over two hundred incidents covered by media as multiculturalism and identity struggle, or in more detail as racial and ethnic struggle, women's concerns, or gay rights activities and represent what recent scholars have described both affectionately and pejoratively as "culture/cultural wars," "campus wars," "multicultural unrest," or "identity politics"... The remaining examples of student protest concerned funding (including tuition concerns), governance, world affairs, and environmental causes".[19]

While less common, protests similar to campus protests can also happen at secondary-level education facilities, like high schools.[17]


Brazilian students march against the military rule in Brazil, 1966
Student syndicalist general strike in Chile

Repertoire of contention in campus protests can take various forms, from peaceful sit-ins, marches, teach-ins, to more active forms that can spread off-campus and include violent clashes with the authorities.[17][20] Campus protests can also involve faculty members participating in them in addition to students, through protests led by or organized by faculty, rather than students, are a minority.[21][22] Just like students can worry about being expelled for participation in the protests, some faculty members are concerned about their job security if they were to become involved in such incidents.[23][18][24][25]

A common tactic of student protest is to go on strike (sometimes called a boycott of classes), which occurs when students enrolled at a teaching institution such as a school, college or university refuse to go to class. It is meant to resemble strike action by organized labour. Whereas a normal strike is intended to inflict economic damage to an employer, a student strike is more of a logistical threat: the concerned institution or government cannot afford to have a large number of students simultaneously fail to graduate. The term "student strike" has been criticized as inaccurate by some unions[26] and commentators in the news media.[27] These groups have indicated that they believe the term boycott is more accurate.[26][27]

Student protests can often spread off-campus and grow in scale, mobilizing off campus activists and organizations, for example the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign led to the city-wide 2014 Hong Kong protests.[28]

Response and aftermath[edit]

Over time, university tolerance of campus protests have grown; while protests occurred before the 20th century they were more likely to be "crushed... with an iron fist... by university leaders" than by mid-20th century, when they have become much more common and tolerated. By the early 21st century, the university response to campus protest in the United States is much more likely to be negotiations, and willingness to yield at least to some of the student demands.[29] There was a resurgence of student activism in the United States in 2015.[30] (In Germany, tuition in public universities were abolished in response to student protests between 2006-2012.[31])

University response to student activism and campus protests can still be much harsher in less liberal countries like China or Taiwan.[23] In 1980 student protests in South Korea were violently suppressed by the military (the Gwangju Uprising).[32] As recently as in 1989 a large scale student demonstration in China that moved off-campus, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, was met with deadly force.[33]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jaroslava Moserova – remembering Jan Palach – Radio Prague". 21 January 2003. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  2. ^ Alan Levy (29 September 2015). So Many Heroes. Permanent Press (ORD). p. 560. ISBN 978-1-5040-2334-4.
  3. ^ "Story of Kostas in Corfu City Hall website". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-03-17.. Quote: During the years of dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974) many Corfiots were enlisted in resistance groups, but the case of Kostas Georgakis is unique in the whole of Greece. The 22 year-old Corfiot student of geology with an act of self-sacrifice and a spirit of dynamic protest, which could not bear to see Greece under the military regime, set himself on fire the first morning hours of 19th September 1970 in the Matteoti Sq. in the Italian city of Genoa. For security reasons his body was buried in Corfu four months later, his self-sacrifice though, a rare event for that time, caused international sensation and was considered one of the most important resistance acts of that period. Later the Hellenic State and his homeland Corfu honoured the man, who with his life became a symbol of resistance and patriotism, herald of the students' sacrifice in Polytechnion in 1973
  4. ^ Annamaria Rivera (2012). Il fuoco della rivolta. Torce umane dal Maghreb all'Europa. EDIZIONI DEDALO. p. 118. ISBN 978-88-220-6322-9. Retrieved 15 March 2013. geologia Kostas Georgakis, op- positore greco di cultura laica, esasperato dalle minacce e dalle rappresaglie subite da agenti dei servizi segreti greci in Italia, s'im- molò in piazza Matteotti per protestare contro la giunta dei Co- lonnelli.
  5. ^ Helen Vlachos (1972). Griechenland, Dokumentation einer Diktatur. Jugend und Volk. ISBN 978-3-7141-7415-1. Retrieved 15 March 2013. In memoriam Kostas Georgakis Er starb für die Freiheit Griechenlands so wie Jan Palach für die der Tschechoslowakei Lieber Vater, verzeih mir diese Tat und weine nicht. Dein Sohn ist kein Held, er ist ein Mann wie alle anderen, vielleicht ..
  6. ^ Giovanni Pattavina; Oriana Fallaci (1984). Alekos Panagulis, il rivoluzionario don Chisciotte di Oriana Fallaci: saggio politico-letterario. Edizioni italiane di letteratura e scienze. p. 211. Retrieved 10 April 2013. no di questi fu lo studente greco Kostas Georgakis, un ragazzo di 22 anni che il 29 settembre 1970 si bruciò vivo a Genova per protestare contro la soppressione della libertà in Grecia. La sera del suo sacrificio riaccompagnò a casa la ...
  7. ^ Rivisteria. 2000. p. 119. Retrieved 10 April 2013. Il caso Kostas Georgakis. Pag.250, L.25000. ISBN 88-8163-217-9. Erga, Genova. Il suicidio del giovane studente greco Kostas Georgakis in sacrificio alla propria patria nel nome di libertà e democrazia apre una finestra su trent'anni di storia ...
  8. ^ Kostis Kornetis (15 November 2013). Children of the Dictatorship: Student Resistance, Cultural Politics and the "Long 1960s" in Greece. Berghahn Books. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-1-78238-001-6. In 1971 at the Piazza Matteotti in Genova, the young student Kostas Georgakis set himself ablaze in protest against the ... a Panteios student and presentday political scientist, recalls how he suffered when Georgakis died, being inspired by his ...
  9. ^ Joseph Lynch (16 December 2013). The Medieval Church: A Brief History. Routledge. pp. 254–. ISBN 978-1-317-87053-1.
  10. ^ Benjamin McKie Rastall (1905). The Cripple Creek strike of 1893. Colorado College. pp. 47–49.
  11. ^ Hugh Seton-Watson (24 February 2017). The Decline of Imperial Russia: 1855-1914. Taylor & Francis. pp. 144–. ISBN 978-1-315-40516-2.
  12. ^ Emanuel Melzer (31 December 1997). No Way Out: The Politics of Polish Jewry 1935-1939. Hebrew Union College Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-87820-141-9.
  13. ^ Michael Staudenmaier (2012). Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969-1986. AK Press. pp. 42–. ISBN 978-1-84935-097-6.
  14. ^ Beate Kutschke; Barley Norton (25 April 2013). Music and Protest in 1968. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-1-107-00732-1.
  15. ^ Robert Wuthnow (2012). Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland. Princeton University Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-691-15055-0.
  16. ^ Gerard J.De Groot (25 September 2014). Student Protest: The Sixties and After. Taylor & Francis. pp. 227–. ISBN 978-1-317-88048-6.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Clarke, James W.; Egan, Joseph (1972-05-01). "Social and Political Dimensions of Campus Protest Activity". The Journal of Politics. 34 (2): 500–523. doi:10.2307/2129365. ISSN 0022-3816. JSTOR 2129365. S2CID 153787448.
  18. ^ a b Jonathan Zimmerman (8 August 2016). Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know®. Oxford University Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-19-062741-6.
  19. ^ Rhoads, Robert A. (1998-11-01). "Student Protest and Multicultural Reform". The Journal of Higher Education. 69 (6): 621–646. doi:10.1080/00221546.1998.11780745. ISSN 0022-1546.
  20. ^ Rob Kirkpatrick (24 January 2011). 1969: The Year Everything Changed. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-1-61608-055-6.
  21. ^ J. Fredericks Volkwein (1968). Relationship of college student protest and participation in policy-making to institutional characteristics. Cornell Univ. p. 65.
  22. ^ Bruce L.R. Smith (18 June 1975). The New Political Economy: The Public Use of the Private Sector. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-349-02042-3.
  23. ^ a b Teresa Wright (2001). The Perils of Protest: State Repression and Student Activism in China and Taiwan. University of Hawaii Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-8248-2401-3.
  24. ^ Astin, Alexander W.; Bayer, Alan E. (1971-04-01). "Antecedents and Consequents of Disruptive Campus Protests". Measurement and Evaluation in Guidance. 4 (1): 18–30. doi:10.1080/00256307.1971.12022476. ISSN 0025-6307.
  25. ^ Jeffrey A. Turner (2010). Sitting in and Speaking Out: Student Movements in the American South, 1960-1970. University of Georgia Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8203-3593-3.
  26. ^ a b "CUPFA Response to Student Class Boycott: March 3, 2012". Concordia University Part Time Faculty Association. 2012-03-03. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  27. ^ a b Deck, Larry (2012-04-15). "Student "Strike" Is Losing Steam". Le Québécois Libre (299). ISSN 1707-0309.
  28. ^ Jason Luger; Julie Ren (18 May 2017). Art and the City: Worlding the Discussion Through a Critical Artscape. Taylor & Francis. pp. 47–. ISBN 978-1-315-30302-4.
  29. ^ Jonathan Zimmerman (8 August 2016). Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know®. Oxford University Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-19-062741-6.
  30. ^ Wong, Alia (2015-05-21). "Student Activism Is Making a Comeback". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
  31. ^ Türkoğlu, Didem (2019-09-12). "Student protests and organised labour: Developing a research agenda for mobilisation in late neoliberalism". Current Sociology. 67 (7): 997–1017. doi:10.1177/0011392119865768. ISSN 0011-3921. S2CID 203453013.
  32. ^ Meredith Leigh Weiss; Edward Aspinall (2012). Student Activism in Asia: Between Protest and Powerlessness. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-0-8166-7969-0.
  33. ^ Cheng, Kris (2017-12-21). "Declassified: Chinese official said at least 10,000 civilians died in 1989 Tiananmen massacre, documents show". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  34. ^ "Kids' strike over school tests".
  35. ^ "BBC News - HK students escalate pro-democracy protest". 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
  36. ^ "BBC News - Spain protest over riot police beatings in Valencia". 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  37. ^ Tremlett, Giles (February 21, 2012). "Valencia police and students clash over education cuts". The Guardian – via
  38. ^ "Thousands take to Valencia streets in protest against police violence and education cuts | In English | EL PAÍS". El País. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  39. ^ "Spanish police clash violently with students: "I don't understand how the situation degenerated so fast" | The FRANCE 24 Observers". 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-11-01.

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