StudentNation | The Nation



Campus-oriented news, first-person reports from student activists and journalists about their campus.

What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 5/22/15?

Toni Morrison

(AP Photo/Alfred A. Knopf)

Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.

The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah. New York Times Magazine, April 8, 2015.

“We don’t need any more writers as solitary heroes,” Morrison said in her 1981 keynote address at the American Writers Congress. “We need a heroic writer’s movement: assertive, militant, pugnacious.” In this profile of Toni Morrison, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah looks not only at her writing, but also her work as an editor as a contribution to the civil rights movement and the powerful societal consequences of both.

Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.

Sentenced to Death in Egypt,” by Emad Shahin. The Atlantic, May 19, 2015.

Emad Shahin—an Egyptian political scientist at Georgetown University—was just sentenced to death in his home country. Here, he responds to the charges of “espionage” and “conspiring to undermine national security.”

Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia and representational issues in film and television.

Sexy Times at the Annual Twin Peaks Festival,” by Travis Blue. Butt Magazine, May 6, 2015.

When I grow up, I want to be…Laura Palmer? There are fans of Twin Peaks and then there’s Travis Blue, who modeled his life after the sexed-up, teenage drug addict at the center of David Lynch’s cult classic. Over the course of six fan-organized Twin Peaks festivals, Blue documents his sexcapades with various men while always keeping reminding himself WWLPD (What Would Laura Palmer Do)—“He wanted to cuddle, but I didn’t think Laura would do that.”

Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.

Gazans reach beyond blockade through start-up.” Ma’an News Agency, May 20, 2015.

128 Gazan businesses were destroyed during last year’s bombardment by Israel, which claimed around 2,200 Palestinian lives and further crippled the blockaded strip in which two thirds of young people—most of whom hold degrees—are affected by unemployment. After GDP declined by 15 percent, two Gazans opened “a gap in the blockade,” by starting a software firm that primarily staffs young female programmers. The dire state of unemployment was exemplified when 400 people applied for 10 jobs, but one of the founders says the high demand signals that Gazans aren’t “just...waiting for humanitarian aid.”

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.

Qatar: Promising Little, Delivering Less—Qatar and migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup.” Amnesty International, May 20, 2015.

Despite a fair amount of media scrutiny, a new report from Amnesty International says that Qatar, the host nation of the 2022 World Cup, has failed to improve conditions for its workers. Faced with obvious human rights abuses, FIFA sponsors Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Visa have urged Qatar to pursue reform measures, yet none of these mega-corporations are threatening to withdraw their sponsorship. It’s a shame that the Beautiful Game’s biggest event is mired in a seemingly endless web of corruption.

Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.

Blood and Glory,” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. The New Inquiry, May 13, 2015.

In the weeks following 9/11, immigrants began to clean the rubble at Ground Zero, making $60 for 12-plus hour days while their contractors worked with deals over hundreds and thousands of dollars. In a lyrical, swooping essay, Villavicencio lays out the case that “the bodies at Ground Zero were made heroic; the immigrant bodies that cleaned them up, less so.” Linking scientific and legal notions of personhood to the shadow labor of necropower, she reveals Ground Zero as an exemplary site for thinking through how the state brings certain lives back after death and lets others die while they're still alive.

Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.

Why My Charter School Needs a Union,” by Dave Woo. In These Times, May 8, 2015.

“I have serious concerns about how resources are allocated by my own charter network,” says teacher Dave Woo, after he learned through FOIA requests that his charter school network spends a quarter-million dollars annually renting a downtown space for administrative activities. Challenging the demonization of unions, he describes them as a mechanism for accountability. For me, this begs the question: why not take the celebrated innovations developed by some charter schools and simply integrate those innovations into a unionized, public school system?

Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.

What Young Feminists Think of Hillary Clinton,” by Molly Mirhashem. National Journal Magazine, May 18.

This time around, Hillary Clinton's campaign will aim to impress the millennial crowd—especially those interested in the women-focused causes Clinton champions. Mirhashem's narrative, featuring millennial feminists, proves that this group expects a lot of the feminist icon, should she earn the desk in the Oval Office.


Read Next: What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 5/8/15?

Students Walk Out for Community College, Hunger Strike for Janitors, and Mass for Tony Robinson


Students march across the Ocean Campus of the City College of San Francisco (Photo: Natasha Dangond, The Guardsman)

This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out April 24 and May 1. Contact studentmovement@thenation.com with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).

1. At City College, Walking Out

On Wednesday, May 6, more than 200 students and faculty walked out of class and held a sit-in at the administrative building of the City College of San Francisco, demanding an end to the Special Trustee with Extraordinary Powers, Guy Lease, the end to a payment policy that discriminates against non-AB540 undocumented students and the reversal of cuts stemming from the college’s illegal accreditation process. Despite a recent court decision demonstrating that the accrediting commission, the corporate ACCJC, broke the law in evaluating CCSF, the special trustee and administration continue to downsize and limit access to the college. At the rally, we highlighted the disproportionate impact these cuts have on Diversity Studies, resource centers, and the students they serve—students of color, LGBTQ students, single parents, formally incarcerated students, and those with special needs. On May 7, the Board of Supervisors held a special hearing at City Hall, but the special trustee—who has a $216,000 salary while students have been pushed out for owing minimal fees, hundreds of classes have been canceled and faculty haven’t received a raise since 2007—failed to attend. We will continue to mobilize until all demands are met.

—Save CCSF Coalition & Diversity Studies Coalition

2. At Trade Tech, Demanding Respect

On May 6, seven officers of the Associated Student Organization from Los Angeles Trade Technical College submitted our resignations to send a statement that the system discounts students’ voices. This was on the heels of the Los Angeles Community College District’s April dissemination of the audit reports of the student trust funds of the district, detailing the mismanagement of our fund—and calling for the reimbursement of $17,000 to the ASO. In our letters of resignations, we reported a range of grievances, including differential treatment, lack of support, gender discrimination, harassment, and racial and ethnic bias by the administration.

—Zaakiyah Brisker

3. No More Tuition

On November 18, 500 students at the University of California–Davis massed to commemorate the pepper-spray incident during the Occupy Movement in 2011—and protest upwards of 27 percent in threatened tuition hikes over the next five years. The next day, students from across the state converged on the UC–San Francisco campus to shut down the Regents meeting and fight the hike. Since then, students at UC Davis have held sit-ins, teach-ins, and building occupations to bring attention to the overwhelming debt and the ever-looming threat of tuition increase. On May 14, Governor Jerry Brown announced a two-year tuition freeze in his state budget.

—Evelyn Nuno

4. No More Cuts

On October 25, Louisiana State University students stormed the field at Death Valley stadium after we beat Ole Miss, reminding the campus and the city what it means to be “Forever LSU.” However, when LSU faced funding cuts up to 82 percent related to state budget deficits, the Baton Rouge campus was silent until a small group of students organized “Make the Change: March the Capitol.” On April 30, 1,200 students, alumni, Louisiana residents, and legislators marched to the steps of the state capitol and vowed to speak out and put the pressure on state representatives to save higher education. Through the action, we registered dozens of voters, sent 8,000 personalized emails to legislators and, on May 7, saw House legislation that would cover all higher education funding.

—Gabrielle Murphy

5. 96 Hours Against Sweatshops

On Monday, April 20, Cards United Against Sweatshops began a 96-hour occupation of the administrative building at the University of Louisville. We decided to escalate after ongoing failure to work with the administration to get the university to cut its licensing contract with JanSport. JanSport is a subsidiary of the VF Corporation, which refuses to sign on the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding agreement that would mandate safety inspections of all factories a company has in Bangladesh. On April 24, the second anniversary of the infamous Rana Plaza collapse, we decided to end the sit-in. On May 7, the university announced that it would not be renewing the contract—the 19th school to cut ties.

—Kate Hall

6. A Hunger Strike for Jobs

From May 3 to 9, five students from the Tufts Labor Coalition staged a hunger strike to protest planned layoffs of 20 to 35 campus janitors—or 10 to 17 percent of the total workforce. The cuts, which make sense neither morally nor economically, are set to take effect at the beginning of June. Dozens of students joined the hunger strikers in a tent encampment outside of Ballou Hall, the main administrative building, with support throughout the week by janitors, faculty, students, local politicians, and community members. As meetings between TLC and the administration continue to be fruitless, actions will continue until Tufts cancels the cuts.

—Nathan Foster

7. Finally, a Step for Trans Justice

In the spring of 2013, students at Smith College founded Q&A to advocate for a trans women–inclusive admissions policy. Since then, we’ve met with administrators, organized educational events and staged protests. On May 2 of this year, the college changed its policy, which required “F” gender markers on all parts of the application, to one that is based on female self-identification. While our refrain, “trans women are women,” has sunk into the collective conscious of Smith College, we must continue to challenge cultural attitudes about trans women. Moving forward, Q&A will work to make Smith a space in which all trans women can thrive by supporting organizing for the rights of undocumented students, recruitment and retention of students of color, accessibility for students of dis/abilities, and economic justice.

—Smith Q&A

8. In Arizona, a Historic Win for Undocumented Youth

On May 7, the Arizona Board of Regents announced that the state’s public universities would grant in-state tuition to DREAMers, undocumented young people who arrived in the United States as children. The decision followed a May 5 ruling in which a state judge ruled that DACA-approved youth, who have work visas under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, should be granted in-state tuition at Maricopa County Community Colleges. For the past three years, a statewide coalition including the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, Scholarships AZ, Flagstaff No More Deaths and Arizona State University’s Graduate and Professional Student Association has worked to put a human face on this issue. We marched, shared stories, and won the support of allies ranging from the Flagstaff City Council to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Now that the doors to higher education are open for Arizona’s 22,000 DACA students, we are planning to explore options for financial aid and resources for undocumented young people while defending our rights from ongoing attacks.

—Korina Iribe

9. In New York, the Ongoing March for Equality

On March 25, for the second year in a row, students from NYCLetEmPlay took over the New York City Council education budget hearing to protest the city’s separate and unequal high school sports system: 17,000 students of color go to a public high school with no sports, and 38,000 have no sports this spring. At the hearing, more than a hundred students stood in front of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, rose our black fists like Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympics and chanted #CivilRightsMatter—only to be dismissed and kicked out by the police. The following day, the city’s Department of Education retaliated by firing our media arts teacher who has been filming our protests and reassigning our dean and college counselor who have stood in solidarity. In turn, we walked out of school, marched to City Hall and staged a sit-in in the hallways. We will continue protesting every Wednesday in front of the department and City Hall until our demand that all students of color have equitable access to sports is met. On May 20, we will move to the Panel for Educational Policy in Brooklyn to testify in front of Chancellor Fariña.

—Sory Konate

10. #Justice4Tony

Editor’s note: On May 13, hundreds of young people filled the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, demanding justice following the non-indictment of officer Matt Kenny for the killing of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. (Video: Freedom Inc)

—Madison Community

What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 5/8/15?


The sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.

The NSA’s greatest hiring strength is students, but resistance is growing,” by Hannah K. Gold. The Guardian, May 1, 2015.

When an agency gives students scholarships and lends universities prestige through its recruiting process, there aren’t a lot of people who are going to argue. When that agency is the NSA, things get more complicated, as Hannah Gold reports on NSA recruitment of students around the country.

Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia, and representational issues in film and television.

When Baltimore Shook With Anger, Here’s What China Saw,” by Viola Rothschild. Foreign Policy, May 5, 2015.

Since the late 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Africans have migrated to China. Although the relationship between the China and African workers has been economically successful, interactions between Chinese citizens and African immigrants on the ground have been fraught with tension and racism—Africans are often characterized as drug-dealing troublemakers and criminals. Rothschild positions Chinese reactions to the recent death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing riots to provide an important commentary on the state of black lives not only within our borders, but also around the world.

Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues, including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.

Double Standards: US Accused of ‘Hypocrisy’ Over Yemen, Ukraine Conflicts.” Sputnik, May 6, 2015.

The Saudi-led, US-backed bombing campaign in Yemen has killed hundreds of civilians and created a humanitarian crisis in yet another invasion piloted by faraway global leaders who somehow still believe the “bombs will restore stability” argument. Critics say “the US and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran” is the driving force in this latest bout of blatant “international lawlessness” precipitated by the United States’ “War on Terror.”

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics, and intellectual history.

France passes new surveillance law in wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack,” by Angelique Chrisafis. The Guardian, May 5, 2015.

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between the controversial new surveillance law passed by the French parliament and the Patriot Act. While Snowden’s revelations about the NSA have provoked a considerable re-evaluation of mass surveillance, there’s no doubt that equipping intelligence agencies with new powers is more palatable when national anxiety is heightened by recent acts of terror.

Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.

America’s trailer parks: the residents may be poor but the owners are getting rich,” by Rupert Neate. The Guardian, May 3, 2015.

Thanks to the national divestment from public housing, trailer parks have become one the last places a poor family can find affordable housing, especially in the American South. Six percent of Americans live in a trailer park, and it’s become a lucrative business for owners and investors. With the provision of affordable housing increasingly privatized, who is to stop those investors from raising rents when they feel like it?

Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health, and education issues.

A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family,” by Kristen Hohenadel. Slate, May 6, 2015.

My 23-year-old friend with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma shared this post from Slate’s design blog and said, “These are perfect.” She has been so tired of people trying to console her by saying, “Things happen for a reason”; then, she saw 24-year-old Hodgkin’s survivor Emily McDowell’s cards with messages cancer patients might want and need to hear. And, as her friend who spent days searching for the right thing to say, I love these, too.


Read Next: What were ‘Nation’ interns reading the week of 5/4/15?

What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 5/4/15?

Argan Morocco

A group of women make argan oil using traditional methods in Essaouira, a city in Western Morocco. (ZiLiv/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.

Towards a Black Muslim Ontology of Resistance,” by Muna Mire. The New Inquiry, April 2015.

“Black Muslim existence as black resistance is as old as America itself.” In a time when black resistance is at the forefront of public conversation, former Nation intern Muna Mire highlights and discusses the role of Black Muslim struggle throughout the history of the country.

Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia, and representational issues in film and television.

Rent-a-Foreigner in China,” by David Borenstein. The New York Times, April 28, 2015.

I’m clearly in the wrong line of work. This fascinating entry in the Times’ Op-Doc series follows a Chinese housing developer who hires foreigners (whites are the most profitable) to make her properties seem attractive and “international” to potential buyers. Borenstein beautifully captures the expanse of China’s towering—and often empty—high rises, while exposing the disturbing racial hierarchies at play.

Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.

Argan oil: the cost of the beauty industry’s latest wonder ingredient,” by Josephine Moulds. The Guardian, April 28, 2015.

Argan trees are grown “almost exclusively” in indigenous areas of Morocco, where the women who produce the oil have suddenly found themselves at the mercy of global companies (like L’Oréal) that have “cottoned on to this apparently magical resource.” Although women’s co-operatives, created by global entities to source the oil, provide indigenous Moroccan women with a source of income, there is still “plenty of scope for exploitation.” Fortunately, NGOs are beginning to step in to “professionalize” the women and help ensure the process is mutually beneficial, at least on some level.

Benjamin Hattem focuses on Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East, as well as economic inequality, homelessness, and the prison system.

Phantom Troops, Taliban Fighting, and Wasted Money—It’s Springtime in Afghanistan,” by Gary Owen. Vice News, April 29, 2015.

This exposé details the US reconstruction program’s inability to stabilize Afghanistan’s economy, monitor the Afghan military, or track its own huge expenditures. It’s detailed and damning, and it suggests that the US is beginning to back away from even trying to rebuild the country.

Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.

Who Killed Pakistan’s Sabeen Mahmud?” by Jahanzeb Hussain. Ricochet. April 26, 2015.

In this article, Hussain delves into the murder of activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was killed on April 24 in Pakistan for speaking about the rights of Balochistan. As natural resources continue to be extracted from Balochistan for the benefit of the state, Hussain describes this as “land theft” and “a new form of imperial subjugation.” “It has now come to the point where supporters of Balochistan in the country’s major cities are being shot for expressing solidarity with the Baloch, or for merely organizing an event to discuss the issue,” he says.

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.

What to Say When the Police Tell You to Stop Filming Them,” by Robinson Meyer. The Atlantic, April 28, 2015.

Whether you’re a journalist, activist or bystander, it’s important to know your rights when filming the police. Any ambiguity is often the result of intimidation.

Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.

Empathy Isn’t Everything,” by Alex-Quan. Rookie, April 20, 2015.

Whatever empathy’s universal value, it often gets emitted in discrete amounts, apportioned out along the lines of those already with privileges, with power. It’s repeatedly called for in heated conversations, even when the subjects of those conversations are still denied basic human rights. “I want to know that you will give me the due respect despite your inability to understand,” writes Alex-Quan.

Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.

Policing the Police,” by Simone Weichselbaum. The Marshall Project, April 23, 2015.

The Marshall Project provides a history of the Justice Department’s efforts to reform police departments over the past twenty years, and questions why the department has failed so frequently to produce any meaningful reform. Is it because conducting a meaningful investigation and monitoring process is politically unpopular, expensive to constituents, and the Justice Department is just not invested in it (especially under Republican presidencies)? Is it because the Justice Department has been unwilling to terminate funding to those departments who fail to comply—and is there any chance that the next president will make funding contingent on reform?

Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.

The Last Days of Ladies’ Home Journal,” by Allison Pohle. The Hairpin, April 28, 2015.

Former Nation intern Allison Pohle shares an insightful narrative into the history and legacy of Ladies’ Home Journal, one of the seven sisters, or original women-driven magazines. Unknown to many, LHJ no longer prints as a monthly magazine and is available in select locations and quantities. Pohle highlights the importance and necessity of a magazine like LHJ, the original backbone for stories written by and for women—one that is still needed by its audience.


Read Next: What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 4/26/15?

‘And the Youth Shall Lead!’ Ten Voices From a Generational Moment


Students in Baltimore. (Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty)

This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out April 10 and April 24. Contact studentmovement@thenation.com with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).

1. #BlackWomensLivesMatter

On Monday, April 20, all charges were dismissed in the case of Chicago police officer Dante Servin, who shot and killed 22 year-old black woman Rekia Boyd in 2012. In solidarity with Boyd’s family, a rally outside the Chicago courthouse followed the verdict and, on April 22, Black Lives Matter hosted another rally in New York City’s Union Square. From Chicago to New York, Boyd’s name has been lifted up at larger Baltimore solidarity actions, with activists nationally calling for greater recognition of black women and girls victimized by police violence and often left out of narratives that center black men. Black Youth Project 100 has launched a petition calling for Servin to be fired and, in collaboration with Ferguson Action and Black Lives Matter, is calling for a National Day of Action to End State Violence Against Black Women and Girls on May 21.

—Asha Rosa

2. Opting Out

This spring, students at Brighton Park Elementary School in Chicago joined peers from across the country in organizing a mass refusal of the PARCC standardized test. We selected one student in each class as a leader, who made sure everyone knew their rights and passed out an opt-out form to anyone who wanted one. Before the PARCC, we assembled within our school to turn in all the forms. While the school initially dismissed our efforts, we ultimately got the administration to show us respect—“This was very well organized!” When it came time to take the test, 97 percent of eighth graders and 86 percent of seventh graders opted out, leading to normal classes the following week instead of a second week of testing. While there are many reasons to refuse the test, we, a largely Latina/o school, reject it as racist; it’s given only in English and doesn’t respect our multilingualism. And while the media acts like only whites are opting out, we are showing otherwise.

—Jennifer Nava

3. Cutting Prisons

Students Against the Prison-Industrial Complex at Brown University is organizing to combat Brown’s perpetuation of the prison industrial complex. This spring, we led a successful campaign to assign Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow as the summer reading for incoming first year students. From April 20 to 24, we organized a week of engagement addressing mass incarceration, prison abolition and community activism as part of the Prison Divestment National Week of Engagement—which hosted events from community forums in California to a sit-in in New York. Moving forward, we will continue working to get our university to divest from prisons and “ban the box” on student and staff applications to Brown, while supporting the work of Providence community activists.

—Jamie Marsicano

4. At Marquette, Students of Color Sit Down to Demand Racial Justice

On April 27, the Ad Hoc Coalition of and for Students of Color at Marquette University assembled to address campus policies on discrimination, police brutality and divestment from companies which commit human rights violations—and pressure the university to “do better” for students of color. Alongside local groups including the Coalition For Justice, four students were arrested after joining arms and sitting down in the middle of a busy campus intersection, shutting down traffic for nearly an hour. The coalition will continue to organize until its demands are taken seriously by the administration.

—Curtis Sails

5. At Colby, a Groundswell Takes Over the “Hill”

On April 12, 2010, two students of color were aggressively detained by Colby College Security in the Pugh Center for multicultural affairs. This April, as part of a yearly reminder, Students Organized for Black and Hispanic Unity organized a week of demonstrations highlighting issues of racial injustice underlying the incident. On “Disruption Tuesday,” April 14, we chanted around campus protesting violence against people of color in the United States and around the world—sparking a range of hateful, threatening and racist comments on the Yik Yak app. The next day, which other groups planned as “Well Dressed Wednesday,” we decided to protest respectability politics, which will not save us from bullets or discrimination, as part of a die-in. In response, the school organized a teach-in and dine-in with faculty and students, bringing out 500 people—an uncomfortable experience for some, but a necessary step in creating a supportive community for all students and acknowledging racism on campus.

—Miriam Valle-Mancilla

6. At UPenn, the Africa Center Meets the Global “Compact”

On April 15, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts & Sciences announced that it would eliminate the Africa Center and move its programs to the Center for Africana Studies and the Penn Language Center, effective July 1. In response to this last-minute and unexpected decision, Students for the Preservation of the Africa Center has raised the issue across campus, with protests during Penn’s College Palooza for prospective pre-freshmen, multiple talks with administrators and an ongoing petition. We see a contradiction: the university is working to consolidate the only two areas of study dealing with Africa while simultaneously avowing to increase Penn’s global engagement with Africa. From meetings with SAS deans, we’ve witnessed little attempt to ensure that Africa and its 1.1 billion inhabitants have an independent place of study at the university.

—Students for the Preservation of the Africa Center

7. 100 Years of Genocide

On April 24, more than 130,000 activists took to the streets of Los Angeles to demand justice for the Armenian genocide, the second-largest demonstration in the city’s history. The Armenian Youth Federation, a global grassroots social justice organization, stated in its speech to the crowd, “You do not define our history; nor will you define what our justice is,” in reference to President Obama’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide on behalf of NATO-ally Turkey. A new wave of activism is escalating demands for Armenian Genocide justice, from recognition to reparations, marked by an AYF-led call for divestment of $70 million from the University of California funds in Turkish government bonds—unanimously endorsed and adopted by UCLA and UC Berkeley undergraduate student governments—along with a newly filed lawsuit in Turkey’s highest court by the Armenian Church.

—Armenian Youth Federation, Western United States

8. No Time for American Sniper

On April 7, Middle Eastern and North African and Muslim students and allies at the University of Michigan wrote a letter to the Center for Campus Involvement asking it not to screen American Sniper, a war propaganda film that whitewashes the racism of former US soldier Chris Kyle and dehumanizes Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims, at UMix Late Night. UMix Late Night is meant to be “a series of fun, late-night activities and events for University of Michigan students… catering to the interests of a diverse student population”; this film incites racism and Islamophobia against communities on campus. In response, CCI postponed the screening, indicating that it would screen it in an appropriate setting of reflection and dialogue. After receiving backlash, including a counter-petition and viral tweet by football coach Jim Harbaugh, the university reversed its decision and reinstated the screening, further marginalizing and demonizing Arab, Muslim and other marginalized voices on campus—and prompting an ongoing, collective response.

—Farah Erzouki

9. “Martin Luther King Didn’t Move to the Side! Malcolm X Didn’t Move to the Side!”

Editor’s note: On April 28, students from the University of Maryland–Eastern Shore blockaded Route 13 in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s murder. (Video: NEWS 24/24)

—Students from UMD–Eastern Shore

10. “All Night, All Day, We Will Fight for Freddie Gray!”

Editor’s note: After police violence against high school students prompted the struggle for black life in Baltimore—and beyond—to escalate, students gathered at Pennsylvania Station to march on city hall. (Video: video11)

—Students from Baltimore

From the Fight for 15 to the Fifth Circuit, a National Youth Groundswell

STL Fight for 15

Students and workers converge in St. Louis. (Photo: Lindsay Tracy, Student Life)

This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out March 16 and April 10. Contact studentmovement@thenation.com with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).

1. “$15 and a Union! No Music!”

On April 15, I went on strike from my job at McDonald’s in St. Louis because I need more than $7.65 an hour, minimum wage, to take care of my family and pay for tuition as an incoming college freshman studying to be a healthcare provider. Adjunct professors, students, home care workers and childcare workers—here and across the country—came out in force to show how the Fight for $15 is growing. We protested at fast-food restaurants, chanting “$15 and a union! No music!”

—Kaylen Smith

2. “Come On Out, We Got Yo’ Back!”

Since 1999, the Progressive Student Alliance, a local of United Students Against Sweatshops at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, has been fighting with the campus union, United Campus Workers, for living wages and justice for women and people of color. On April 15, as part of a national student mobilization, we traveled from Knoxville to Ferguson with Show Me $15. When we made it to West Florissant Avenue, we joined 400 others, and a large group rushed into McDonald’s to support fast food workers, chanting “Come on out, we got yo’ back!” As we marched to Canfield Street, where Mike Brown was killed, we held 4 minutes of silence for the four hours that police let him lie in the street after being executed. This was a day of rage in which we rallied, took back the streets and showed that we are not intimidated by corporate resistance to raising poverty wages.

—J.T. Taylor

3. Jamming the Immigration Court

On April 17, hundreds of immigrants and advocates from across the country gathered in New Orleans, where a panel of three judges weighed a request for an emergency stay on a lawsuit filed by 26 anti-immigrant Republicans to delay the implementation of DACA and DAPA, a program announced by the Obama administration in November, which promises to shield millions from deportation. I was in the courtroom with someone who would be able to qualify for DAPA—my mom, who, 22 years ago, made the courageous decision to leave her family and career in order to give my sister and me a shot at a better future. As we listened to the arguments from both sides, we could hear the roar of people outside. As the case rolls on, we will continue preparing our community to apply for relief.

—Jassiel Perez

4. Preparing for Walter Scott

Following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Charleston community members formed a plan for how we would respond to a similar tragedy in our community. When Walter Scott was killed on April 4, we operated from a stance of “Negotiate, Demonstrate, Resist,” with a vision of justice founded on ending the epidemic of violence against the black community and implementing a system of police accountability. On April 8, we assembled outside City Hall, calling on the mayor to establish a Citizen Review Board, which would have the power to investigate officers independently—a departure from the rubber-stamp internal investigations that have resulted in few charges, and zero convictions, in the 209 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina in the five years preceding Walter Scott’s death. While waiting for a positive response, we have temporarily escalated to the “Resist” stage of our strategy—shutting down intersections, highways and access to City Hall on several occasions. We will continue mounting pressure until the city responds.


5. Disrupting for Racial Justice

On Saturday, April 18, the University of California–Berkeley’s annual “Cal Day,” the Black Student Union blocked Sather Gate in protest of a racially hostile campus climate. On February 13, the BSU presented the chancellor with a list of ten demands aimed at increasing recruitment, retention, mental health and other resources available to Black students on campus. After receiving incomplete responses to the demands, we decided to take the message public. Despite being harassed with racist comments both online and in person, we remained peaceful while protesting for almost three hours. In the coming weeks, we will persist until our demands are implemented.

—Cal BSU

6. In Middletown, Injustice Is Not an Investment

On Thursday, April 16, 38 students at Wesleyan University hosted a sit-in at President Michael Roth’s office. As a coalition for divestment and transparency, and in conjunction with other schools with escalating campaigns, we are calling for total divestment from fossil fuels, the prison industry and the Israeli occupation. After we took over the office at noon, the president sat down with us, but no progress was made. We remained there until 10:45 PM, leaving out of consideration for the security staff who would have had to work 16-hour shifts, before returning at 7:45 the next morning with a set of updated demands for prison divestment. Subsequently, the president agreed to find out if the university had holdings in private prisons and companies such as G4S, CCA and GEO and, if so, divest and ensure no future investments would be made.

—The Coalition for Divestment and Transparency

7. In Tuscaloosa, a Historic Sit-In

For two years, students at the University of Alabama have called on the university to join the Worker Rights Consortium to ensure proper monitoring of the factories that produce collegiate apparel. On Monday, April 6, ten students, alongside community supporters and two Bangladeshi supporters, one of whom survived the April 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse that claimed over 1,100 lives, staged a sit-in at President Judy Bonner’s office—the first documented occupation of the president’s office since the university was established in 1831. Chanting, singing and remembering those who came before us, we demanded that the university respect the lives of garment workers that make its apparel and make the decision to join the more than 180 universities affiliated with the WRC.

—United Students Against Sweatshops, Local 144

8. In Grinnell, Student Power Rises

On April 18 and 19, 90 Iowans came together at Grinnell College to form the Iowa Student Power Network. Alongside members of USSA, SLAP, Iowa CCI and the Virginia Student Power Network, as well as former US Representative Berkley Bedell, students from eight campuses launched statewide campaigns to end sexual assault, fight for climate justice and build power in all 99 Iowa counties. To kick off the network, we launched the Divest Grinnell campaign with an aerial photo action visualizing “IA Students > Fossil Fuels.” We are planning to host our next convergence in the fall.

—Iowa Student Power Convergence Steering Committee

9. #MoreThanATest

After months of research and planning, Philadelphia Student Union members from the city’s flagship Science Leadership Academy launched the #MoreThanATest website, which catalogues dozens of testimonies detailing why our education cannot be reflected by standardized test scores. We demand that Pennsylvania remove Keystone testing as a graduate requirement. Instead of the current formula, in which schools receive more or less funding based on test scores, we believe that all schools should receive full and fair funding. Decision-makers cannot expect us to perform well on tests when our schools’ resources are cut year after year. Alongside students across the country this spring, we are encouraging everyone to opt out.

—Philadelphia Student Union

10. #CarryThatWeight

On April 10, the University of California–Santa Cruz revealed that it is under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations due to mishandling complaints of sexual violence on campus. Three days later, students on campus took part in the Carry That Weight National Day of Action, shouldering mattresses to symbolize the burden sexual violence places on survivors. We held a 4-hour, continuous carry in a major campus hub, asking passersby to stop and help us in order to raise awareness. At the end of the day, two groups of students marched through campus carrying mattresses, chanting and holding signs saying “End Rape Culture” and “Safe Campuses are a Civil Right.” The Day of Action, which fell during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is one of many events planned to engage the campus in ending sexual violence.

—Amelie Meltzer

What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 4/26/15?

Detroit Foreclosure

Hundreds of Detroit homeowners at risk of losing their property are flocking to hearings that offer them a last-ditch chance to avoid foreclosure. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.

Another Round of Detroit Refugees?” by Laura Gottesdiener. TomDispatch, April 19, 2015.

As Detroit faces tens of thousands of tax foreclosures this month, Gottesdiener – who quite literally wrote the book on foreclosure – takes us inside the bureaucracy of these cases, the yearslong fight by residents to save their homes, and the dangerous "foreclosure conveyer belt" that has emptied the city.

Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.

Blood on the tracks: The short life and mysterious death of Deion Fludd,” by Aaron Miguel Cantú. Al Jazeera America, April 21, 2015.

The family of Deion Fludd accuses the NYPD of beating their 17-year-old son and placing his body on the tracks of the A-train. The NYPD says Fludd ran into a subway tunnel to evade arrest. Former Nation intern Aaron Miguel Cantú investigates and finds the police version of events lacking.

Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia and representational issues in film and television.

Anchorman: The Legend of Don Lemon,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. GQ, May 2015.

A good friend once said to me, “Don Lemon is black, gay, and still doesn’t get it. Somebody at GQ must owe CNN a favor because this profile paints a much more complicated picture of a man…an anchorman…whom above all else “just keeps on going.” What becomes clear is that despite Lemon’s embarrassing gaffes over the past year (Ferguson, Cosby, ISIS, etc.), he is a prized commodity, one CNN refuses to let go gentle into that Brian Williams goodnight.

Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.

Israel must provide alternatives to prison for Palestinian minors,” by Leah R. Platkin. +972 Magazine, April 22, 2015.

In Israel, Palestinian children are subject to abuses that UNICEF has said breach international human rights law, are tried in military courts and can be sent to military prisons for up to 20 years for offenses such as stone throwing. This article points out that such abuses contribute to rising rates of untreated psychological trauma while disrupting children’s education and fueling a continuous cycle of resentment, and says it’s time Palestinian children are given the same access to “alternative-to-prison programs including continued education, mental health treatment, and detention prevention” that is given to Jewish Israelis.

Benjamin Hattem focuses on Israel/Palestine and the broader Middle East, as well as economic inequality, homelessness, and the prison system.

The Whistleblower's Tale: How An Accountant Took on Halliburton,” by Jesse Eisinger. ProPublica, April 21, 2015.

An impressively detailed, lucid story on Halliburton’s fraudulent accounting practices and the company’s long legal battle against a whistleblower who brought their case to the SEC.

Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.

Refugee Camp Is Under Attack From Assad and ISIS,” by Jesse Rosenfeld. The Daily Beast, April 15, 2015.

There is “virtually no escape” for those living in the Yarmouk refugee camp, writes Jesse Rosenfeld. Between 14,000 and 16,000 residents are being bombed and shelled by both ISIS and Assad’s forces as the Syrian civil war continues to escalate. The Yarmouk refugee camp is spiraling into an even greater humanitarian crisis as they lack food, water, and medicine: “There are desperate scenes as some [residents] come out to scour the area under sniper fire and shelling and look for wells.”

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.

Finally, a Democrat who calls “bulls**t”: Martin O’Malley drops a profane truth bomb on GOP’s deranged economic policy,” by Simon Maloy. Salon, April 21, 2015.

While the jury is still out on O’Malley, the former Baltimore mayor and governor of Maryland who may or may not have been the inspiration for the ambitious Tommy Carcetti on HBO’s The Wire, if he decides to run for president he just might have the type of fiery candor that will resonate with the general electorate. Let’s be honest, Hillary Clinton’s campaign began shortly after her tenure as Secretary of State and it will be quite difficult for grassroots organizers to get excited about “the inevitable.” Unless we all want flammable faucets (see Global Shale Gas Initiative) it would be a welcome sign to see a candidate enter the race who can draw a stark contrast to Hillary’s positions.

Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.

ON WHITENESS AND THE RACIAL IMAGINARY,” by Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda. Lithub, April 9, 2015.

I've read, and then re-read, and will continue to read this essay, which, if I tried to quote from, would need to quote it all. I hope you read it too.

Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.

House Rules,” This American Life. NPR, November 2013.

At the recommendation of The Nation's new staff member, Vanessa Dunstan, I listened to this podcast on the extent to which housing discrimination persists, though often invisibly, in New York and throughout the country. After the passage of The Fair Housing Act in 1968, HUD Secretary George Romney—yes, Mitt Romney's father—went under Nixon's nose and spearheaded an interpretation of the act that “affirmatively further[ed]” integration. Nixon, desperate to hold onto his Southern constituency, replaced Romney and shut down the program, with detrimental effects that last to this day.

Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.

Sally Mann's Exposure,” by Sally Mann. New York Times Magazine, April 16, 2015.

In this essay, world-renowned photographer Sally Mann discusses her much-critiqued book of photos, “Immediate Family,” and reflects on how these photographs, and their controversial focus, informed her career. Mann writes that her photos are art, should be appreciated as such and allowed to stand alone to convey their individual messages.


Read Next: What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 4/21/15?

What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 4/21/15?

Chairman Mao

A guard stands in front of the Tiananmen Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing. (Osrin/CC BY-NC 2.0)

Queen Arsem-O’Malley focuses on grassroots labor organizing, youth-led social movements, anti-carceral feminism, and critiques of mainstream media.

Keep Your Friends Closer,” by Isabelle Nastasia. Mask Magazine, April 2015.

"Vulnerable people have been materially supporting one another always.... I’m realizing more and more that keeping my phone on and picking up every single time might be the most radical thing I can do these days." On creating support networks, looking out for each other, and friends who save your life.

Avi Asher-Schapiro focuses on US foreign policy, politics in the Middle East and South America, and technology issues.

As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations,” by Matthew Cunningham-Cook. International Business Times, April 8, 2015.

Hilary Clinton campaigned in 2008 against a free-trade agreement with Colombia, citing the government's troubling human rights record and history of intimidating trade unionists. But as secretary of state, she reversed her position, praised Colombia's human rights record, and ignored the complaints of local labor activists. Some digging by IB Times' Matthew Cunningham-Cook has now revealed that at "the same time that Clinton's State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife.”

Cole Delbyck focuses on LGBT politics, East Asia and representational issues in film and television.

Chairman Mao Invented Traditional Chinese Medicine,” by Alan Levinovitz. Slate, October 22, 2013.

My only encounter with “traditional Chinese medicine” is gua sha—a skin treatment that leaves you with bruises for weeks and awkward questions in the gym locker room. Who knew Mao Zedong was responsible for exporting this voluntary form of abuse abroad as propaganda to prey “on the human desire for magical solutions to intractable problems?” In 2013, the US Senate designated October 7-13 as Naturopathic Medicine Week, which indirectly celebrates the contributions of the Chairman, who, in fact, never believed in Chinese medicine in the first place.

Khadija Elgarguri focuses on MENA issues including women’s rights, the relationship between foreign policy and cultural change, and women’s roles in protest movements in the region.

Women and the Arab Spring: a dream turned nightmare,” by Abdalhadi Alijla. openDemocracy, March 20, 2015.

In a tumultuous post-Arab-Spring era, women throughout the region are caught in proxy wars and subjected to the effects of political and social instability, which creates a situation where “women are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their basic rights, fight against discrimination and harassment or even be active participants in political and social spheres.” Alijla says that while equality laws do exist, “it’s only ink on paper,” and argues that the only viable solution is to initiate bottom-up reforms to ensure that regional progress in the advancement of women’s rights is not lost.

Nadia Kanji focuses on foreign policy, political art & alternative economic structures.

Navajo Women Walk 1000 Miles to Protest Pipeline,” by Leigh Cuen. Red Power Media, April 9, 2015.

Since January, over 70 people of the Navajo First Nations community have been walking across the American Southwest to protest a fracking oil pipeline in New Mexico. The walk is being documented on social media, where they state: “Since the 1920's, our land and people have been sacrificed for energy extraction for oil, gas, uranium, and coal, which is poisoning our land, water, air, and people.” This walk also commemorates the 150th anniversary of “The Long Walk,” where their ancestors were forced to walk at gunpoint for nearly three years to Bosque Redondo, where they were virtually all imprisoned.

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

James F. Kelly focuses on labor, economic inequality, world politics and intellectual history.

Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers: We get it,” by Gabriel Debenedetti, Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben White. Politico, April 15, 2015.

Hillary Clinton has a lot of work to do if she’s going to convince voters that her newfound populism isn’t just empty rhetoric. It will be interesting to see how Clinton positions herself on the minimum wage or paid sick leave while still having to court her power base in Lower Manhattan.

Ava Kofman focuses on technology, popular science and media culture.

The Assistant Economy,” by Francesca Mari. Dissent, Spring 2015.

Mari travels through the lifecycle of emotions encountered as an executive assistant, with anecdotes from those working for Sontag, Altman, and anonymous hedge fund billionaires. "The real expense of this work," she notes, "is how much the boss—and the idea of the boss—occupies his assistants after hours."

Abigail Savitch-Lew focuses on urban policy, labor and race.

Dozens Arrested During Brooklyn Bridge Protest Against Police Violence,” by Ashley Southall and C.J. Hughes. The New York Times, April 14, 2015.

A new round of anti-police violence protests shocked cities across the country on Tuesday, including in Manhattan, Oakland, San Francisco, and Chicago. By The New York Times' description, the New York protest was more disruptive than usual—and perhaps it was, but it's also necessary to inquire why and to what effect. You will not read about what I saw coming off the train in Brooklyn: police officers suddenly ramming protesters onto the ground or into walls, as reported widely on social media.

Hilary Weaver focuses on reproductive rights, feminism and related political, health and education issues.

Real Delusions of an Unreal Disease: the History of Morgellons,” by Stassa Edwards. Jezebel, April 15, 2015.

When Joni Mitchell was rushed to the hospital last month, my best friend sent me a text and said she was calling in sick to work should anything happen to the legendary singer, whose music is our go-to consult for post-college angst and real-world-adult-woman struggles. In the weeks that followed, more came out about Mitchell’s self-diagnosed skin disease, Morgellons. In this piece detailing the history of Morgellons, Edwards assures us that while Mitchell’s pain might be very real, the disease itself is not.


Read Next: What Are ‘Nation’ Interns Reading the Week of 4/9/15?

Ask NYU: What’s The Deal With Andrew Hamilton?

Andrew Hamilton

(Credit: Bridget Casey)

This piece was originally published by NYU Local and is reposted here with permission.

On March 18, the NYU Board of Trustees announced their decision to appoint Andrew Hamilton as the next president of the university. He has previously served as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford and Provost at Yale, and he will assume his position at NYU in January 2016. Following the official memorandum sent to faculty and students, Hamilton wrote an enthusiastic e-mail to personally introduce himself to the NYU community.

So, NYU Local took to the streets around Washington Square Park to ask students about their opinions of their president-to-be. Some graduating seniors replied with a confused “who?” while another shrugged and expressed her ambivalence towards “just another old white man.” A surprising number of students referred to “Alexander” Hamilton. Most students, however, had much to say about John Sexton, Andrew Hamilton, and the future of their education at NYU.

“I feel like I have more feelings about Sexton leaving than I do about who the new president is. I’ve only been here for a semester and a half, but from what I’ve heard about Sexton, he’s really the face of this growing empire that NYU is and this corporate attitude towards running a university. Frankly, I don’t know what [Sexton] looks like, I wouldn’t know him if I saw him, but the idea of him is upsetting to me. I doubt much will change [with Hamilton as president]. I’m very, very sure nothing will.”

Rowan, graduate student at Gallatin

“I am excited about the new president because he does not have a business or a law degree, and I think that will contribute to the way he runs the university in that he probably won’t run it as a business. He is a researcher, so he may be interested in making NYU a research university… I think [this decision] may have also had something to do with integrating Poly more, because Hamilton is a scientist, specifically a chemist.”

Xena, freshman at CAS

“I haven’t read [the e-mail] yet… I care to a certain extent, but I don’t have that much time left here. I’m a first semester senior, so I guess I feel like it doesn’t affect me that much, which is probably not the right attitude. I know there’s been a lot of drama [with John Sexton and the current NYU administration] and I’m definitely wary of all the tuition hikes… I’m interested to see if anything changes or if it will just stay the same.”

Sophie, senior at Gallatin

“I read what he had to say… How much could really change? He’s just one guy, even though he’s at the top. Even the President of the United States doesn’t have that much power. You can’t really tell if he’s a nice guy or not, because obviously his e-mail will make him sound nice no matter what. He probably didn’t even write it himself.”

Matt, sophomore at CAS

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

“Oxford seem to be sad to have lost him, which may be a good thing for us, given that Oxford is such a distinguished university. Honestly, I’m sad that John Sexton is leaving. He’s gotten a hard time here, but he seems to be a devoted president. It seems like NYU is going in an interesting direction. We’ll just have to see in a few more years what actually happens.”

Andrew, senior at Gallatin

“He’s an academic, not a businessperson, so I am cautiously optimistic that he might repair the relationship between faculty and the administration.”

Tommy, sophomore at CAS

“I am more curious to see what [Hamilton] will do. I think a lot of students are concerned about unnecessary spending on senior faculty and whether he will do anything to change that, or continue to be paid ridiculous amounts of money at the expense of students. Another concern that I have is what he will do about NYU’s expansion plan and labor policies in some of our satellite campuses. He has not spoken to any of those issues, which leads me to think that maybe he will just continue what John Sexton has started. But, with that said, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Mariah, junior at Gallatin

In spite of many reservations and widespread disillusionment, it seems that NYU students will wait to judge Hamilton until next year, or at least until they finish reading that e-mail. Your move, Andy.


Read Next: Students Blockade for $150 Billion, Rally for Hoosier ‘Freedom’ and Rise for Martese Johnson

Students Blockade for $150 Billion, Rally for Hoosier ‘Freedom’ and Rise for Martese Johnson

Virginia protest

Students from Virginia Commonwealth University hit the streets after the beating of a UVa student. (Photo: The Daily Progress)

This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on youth organizing. For recent dispatches, check out March 5 and March 16. Contact studentmovement@thenation.com with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).

1. Whose Budget?

For the past month, the United States Student Association has been leading the charge to oppose $150 billion in cuts to the Pell Grant, subsidized loan, income-based repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Beginning March 16, students across the country made hundreds of phone calls to House and Senate Budget Committee members. On March 18, USSA students, staff and allies disrupted the Senate Budget Committee and were arrested and charged for speaking out. The week of March 23, we sent more than 13,000 emails through an online petition, culminating in an action on March 27 at the Capitol, where more than 200 students and allies, including Senator Bernie Sanders, turned out to oppose the cuts—and ten students were arrested for blocking the intersection of First and Maryland. On March 30, 250 students converged on Capitol Hill for a lobbying blitz. We are continuing to build support against these cuts while mobilizing more and bigger actions—not only until Congress rolls them back, but until higher education is free.

—United States Student Association

2. Whose History Month?

On March 23, fifty community members gathered outside the ICE field office in Santa Ana, California, and marched to Santa Ana City Jail to demand the release of Omara Gomez-Aviles, a Salvadorian mother of three who was detained as part of ICE’s “Operation Cross Check” earlier this month. At age 17, Omara came to the US fleeing the civil war and violence in her home country—including sexual abuse and an arranged marriage to an older man. Although she has two felony convictions, which make her a priority for deportation, these are from sixteen years ago—and deportation should not be a form of punishment. This protest was part of “Chant Down the Walls,” a concert series started last year in Los Angeles by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, along with youth and community activists. In the coming months, we plan to take these serenata concerts to other states, including Arizona, Texas and Alabama.

—Claudia Bautista

3. The Nittany Lion’s Last Straw

Generations of women, and too often victims of sexual violence, have suffered in silence on Penn State campus and the streets of State College. On Friday, March 20, more than 100 students rallied after a fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho, undressed unconscious women and posted pictures on social media. On March 25, Window of Opportunity, a youth-based community group, staged a march on frat row to protest in front of KDR. On Thursday, April 2, the Progressive Student Coalition hosted a public forum to discuss rape culture in our community. The next day, WOO organized another march on frat row.

—Laura Shadle

4. The Hoosiers’ Disgrace—and Uprising

After Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed the state senate in early March, the Allies Club of Brebeuf Jesuit teamed up with Freedom Indiana to challenge the bill, which allows businesses to discriminate against people on the basis of religion—with LGBT people as targets. High school students phone-banked, delivered hand-written letters to our senators and representatives urging them to vote “no” and rallied at the Indiana Statehouse. Despite our—and many other Hoosier’s—efforts, the bill proceeded to pass through the Indiana House and was signed by Governor Pence on March 26.

—Olivia Totten

5. In Charlottesville, Hitting the Streets—and the Board—for Black Lives

The brutal beating of black University of Virginia student Martese Johnson by law enforcement officers on St. Patrick’s Day sparked campus-wide protests against the systemic racism the black community experiences every day at UVA. Hundreds of people attended a March 18 rally on campus and later shut down sections of University Ave. and West Main St. before marching to the Charlottesville Police Station. When the UVA Student Council unilaterally planned a police dialogue featuring top officers from across the state, black students took over the event and demanded answers to the violent policing of black bodies, before marching out with fists raised. Organizers took to social media, using hashtags #BlackUVADemands and #NotJustUVA to connect the struggles of black students to those of the Charlottesville community, which has faced racism and discrimination for decades. One week after the beating, UVA’s Board of Visitors railroaded an 11 percent tuition increase that will expedite the privatization of UVA—a process that disproportionately hurts black and low-income students. In response, UVA Students United mobilized hundreds of students for two days of demonstrations against the hike, including a sit-in after administrators locked down a public building to prevent demonstrators from entering the BOV meeting.

—UVA Students United

6. In Lansing, Rising for a New State

On Thursday, March 26, 150 members of the Michigan Student Power Network, representing nine campuses, converged on Lansing for the Michigan Student Rise March. At the capitol, we delivered ten demands to supportive legislators, embracing a range of causes and movements and articulating a socially just vision for Michigan’s future—in opposition to policies that serve the white, rich and male ruling members of society. Following several speakers on the capitol steps, we marched to the rotunda and on to the legislative chambers. In the face of right to work, religious discrimination legislation, education cuts, emergency managers and more, MSPN is committed to building power among young people to fight for a state that supports all people.

—Michigan Student Power Network

7. From Hillel to Kehilah

On March 22, Swarthmore’s Jewish organization held a celebration to announce that it would change its name from Swarthmore Hillel to Swarthmore Kehilah, or “community” in Hebrew. The decision followed legal threats from Hillel International over Israel-Palestine programming. Two days later, the Kehilah hosted civil rights veterans Ira Grupper, Mark Levy, Larry Rubin and Dorothy Zellner, who are on a national tour, “From Mississippi to Jerusalem,” speaking with students about their experiences as white, Jewish organizers in the US civil rights movement and around Israel-Palestine. Swarthmore’s programming is part of a student movement challenging Hillel International’s restrictive “Standards of Partnership” on Israel-Palestine. On February 27, the Wesleyan Jewish community, an affiliate of Hillel International, hosted a Jewish Voice for Peace Shabbat event with nearly 50 attendees, although Hillel’s standards bar JVP. On March 20, Caroline Dorn resigned as president of Muhlenberg Hillel after her Hillel refused to host the civil rights tour—which proceeded to take place at another location with 100 attendees.

—Open Hillel Steering Committee

8. From March 29 to Spring 2016

On the morning of Thursday, March 29, twenty Divest University of Mary Washington students began a sit-in of our president’s office. On March 18, the Board of Visitors refused to hold a vote on our campaign’s proposal to form a subcommittee simply to explore options for removing the university’s investments from the fossil fuel industry. On Thursday evening, a group of students from across Virginia joined Divest UMW in a unified call for divestment statewide, culminating in the first collective action of DivestVa. Divest UMW will continue the sit-in until our demand, a plan for coal industry divestment by the end of the 2016 spring semester, is met.

—Rabib Hasan

9. 15 Now

On March 25, Temple University students and workers launched a campaign demanding at least $15 an hour for all workers on campus—from adjunct professors to food service workers to student workers. In coalition with groups across campus, Temple 15 Now wrote a letter to President Neil Theobald, articulating our fight as an issue of equality and justice in the North Philadelphia community. After a rally and speeches by students and workers, we marched to Theobald’s building—which is supposed to be open to all students and faculty—but were greeted by police blocking the entrance. We plan to escalate until the president will accept the letter himself—and listen to us.

—Zoe Buckwalter

10. 1,100—and More—Next

From March 19 to 22, I joined more than 1,100 young union leaders, students and community allies in Chicago for the AFL-CIO’s Next Up Young Worker Summit. We heard from leaders throughout the labor and progressive movements; sharpened our organizing skills in more than 80 workshops; shared successful strategies from campaigns across the country; and led dozens of sessions to strategize a raising wages agenda. On Saturday, March 21, we participated in seven actions across Chicago. I joined a large crowd to demonstrate for union rights and a $15 minimum wage outside Food 4 Less and McDonalds. Others organized leafletting for the #ChangeZara campaign, talked to Guitar Center workers about the benefits of a union contract, visited a Nissan dealership to support Nissan workers fighting for a union, supported striking Steelworkers at a nearby refinery, amplified Chicago’s #CabDriversUnited and canvassed for a teacher running for Chicago’s Board of Alderman. As a member of IBEW Local 46 and the AFL-CIO’s Young Worker Advisory Council, I have returned to Washington State eager to to build the next generation of leaders in the labor movement.

—Chelsea Nelson

Syndicate content