Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

You have a voice so use it! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not everyone expresses it. How many times have you avoided getting involved with a protest about something you believed in? How many times have you held your tongue in class? It’s time to stop. Voicing your opinion is so important—especially in college even though it is hard to do when

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Cartoon that shows the point of view how college students do not protest about important issues. 

the generation before us is always criticizing what we find important. Our generation is constantly being examined under a microscope. One of the main discussions people are focusing on today is how college students use their First Amendment right—freedom of speech. Many people from older generations are not happy about what we choose to voice our opinions on. As a college student, I say that we do protest about important things. College students today do protest about things that matter like ending acism, the cost of college tuition, the blockage of Syrian refugees, and more recently the results of our presidential election. These topics only demonstrate positive characters of the students protesting in college like the want for equality, helping others in need, and caring about who is in the hands of our country. But, somehow the generation before us has found a way to diminish the need for equality.

One negative result colleges around the country are seeing is the decline in donations from alumni. According to Anemona Hartocollis, from The New York Times, several small liberal arts schools reported they received less donations from alumni because they feel disrespected by the protests. Hartocollis affirmed that, “alumni from a range of generations say they are baffled by today’s college culture” (Hartocollis). More simply put, the alumni are shocked about what college students are protesting. These alumni go on to be quoted saying that students are too focused on racial and identity politics.What is so shocking about students wanting equal rights for everyone? No group can be “too” focused on ending discrimination. Being too focused on racism should not be discouraged by the former students of the institution. This sets a bad example of the values that an institution holds. From personal experience, I have seen two Black Lives Matter protests since I have been on campus. The University of Tennessee takes pride in diversity, which is very welcoming in an institution.

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Students at the University of Tennessee blocking an intersection in honor of Ferguson and Mike Brown. 

Another big issue that students have been protesting is the cost of college tuition. A major example of this is the Million Student March where students from Massachusetts to Washington walking to achieve their goals of a higher minimum wage and lower (or even free) tuition. Public institutions, private colleges, and even community colleges where all involved in this walk. A student from the University of California, Santa Barbara believes that his march has shown that student activism is still alive and the march showed a clear message (Williams).  Going to college is a great step in not only bettering one’s future, but the whole country as well. A country should pride itself in educating their students. Unfortunately, the immense amount of college debt that students are accumulate make it nearly impossible for many people to become educated. The Huffington post conducted a poll with one-thousands adults, ages twenty-two and twenty-three, that discovered 62% of the people believed that the majority of Americans could not afford college and over half of these same people polled believed that college is necessary to “get ahead” in life (Kingkade). In other words, most people believe college is

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College students protest high tuition fees. 

an important factor to having a good future, but a lot of Americans are unable to afford it. Student protests for this topic seem very important, considering everyone wants this country to be the best it can be. However, with many citizens in debt or trying to avoid the debt without earning a higher level education it is difficult to make our country the best it can be. This purpose of protesting is ver real and should not be deemed unimportant.

College students are also protesting the blockage of allowing Syrian refugees into America, specifically Texas. A college student in Houston, Brandon Garcia, participated in a march with the aims of ending the emergency order to block the incoming Syrian refugees. Garcia stated that he believes the Syrian refugees are the most important issue of his time (Samora). Proper education is vital for everyone to have, but Syrian refugees are in a predicament that does not allow them to have one. Higher education especially, is provided in America for them. The fact that college students are protesting and fighting for them to come to the States to have this right, among a variety of other rights, shows their dedication to their own education. Alumni from the institutions where the students are advocating for the refugees should be proud to have students that care about basic human rights for everyone.

A more recent issue that has been widely protests is the victory of Donald Trump as the new President of the United States. One day as I was rushing to class, hundreds of people were protesting his victory. They were chanting phrases in favor of Hillary Clinton. Susan Svrluga wrote in The Washington Post that college students today are a part of the biggest liberal leaning group of all ages, which is a big reason why there were so many protests against Trump on campus (Svrluga). This articles also states that even in states where trump was strongly supported, college students weren’t expected to be celebrating (Svrluga). 81% of students, according to Yale Daily News Poll, supported Clinton. The university of Virginia also generated a poll that found 87% of students would vote for Clinton. Clinton was favored widely by millennials on college campuses, which shows how strongly and united our generation was for this presidential election. Students protesting, whether it is pro-Trump or pro-Clinton, is important for a college atmosphere. In past elections the millennial generation as a whole has had a lack of interests for politics, but by the looks of these protests the interest is back.

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Students protest Trump’s presidential victory at Temple University. 

Some people do not want to protest because they do not think anything will happen. Women in Poland did not let that mind-set discourage them. Tina Rosenberg wrote that Poland has incredibly strict abortion laws. A government supported bill which entailed punishing women with five years in prison for getting an abortion was voted down three days after the protestors began (Rosenberg).  This example might seem far away from home, but the bottom line is that the polish women should encourage everyone to go out and protest, no matter what others think about the importance of your issue. Whether a person agrees with the side students are protesting or not, they are interested in current event topics. More importantly, young people are showing interests and points of view in topics which in turn will bring more ideas to the table when trying to solve these many problems. Unlike the generation ahead of us, I believe that students today protest about important topics like, racism, the cost of college tuition, the crisis in Syria, and the election of Donald trump.

Works Cited

 

Easterling Evan. “Second anti-Trump protest makes way through Main Campus.” The Temple News, 9 November 2016, http://temple-news.com/news/second-anti-trump-protest-makes-way-main-campus/.

Foden Glenn. “Cartoon: College Then and Now.” The Daily Signal, 13 November 2015, http://dailysignal.com/2015/11/13/cartoon-college-then-and-now/.

Hartocollis Anemona. “College Students Protest, Alumni’s Fondness Fades and Checks Shrink.” The New York Times, 4 August 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/us/college- protests-alumni-donations.html.

Kingkade Tyler. “Most Americans Say They Can’t Afford Public College.” Huffington Post, 27 August 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/college-costs_n_3817585.html.

Rosenberg Tina. “The Art of Protesting.” The New York Times, 21 November 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/opinion/the-art-of-the-protest.html.

Samora Sara. “Students Protest Syrian Refugees Block, Demand Halt to War.” The Daily Cougar, 5 December 2015, http://thedailycougar.com/2015/12/05/students-protest-syrian-refugees-block-demand-halt-to-war/.

Svrluga Susan. “Mobs of Tearful, Angry Students Protesting Trump Victory Swarm CollegeCampuses.” The Washington Post, 9 November, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/11/09/mobs-of-tearful-angry-students-protesting-trump-victory-swarm-campuses/?utm_term=.ee83bc3eb216.

Williams Joseph. “Students Strike to Protest College Costs, Lack of Opportunities forGrads.” takepart, 15 November 2015, http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/11/12/students-strike-protest-cost-college-lack-opportunities-grads.

Wynn Cory. “Just Wait Until You See How Much Rice’s Tuition & Fees Have IncreasedOver The Past 10 Years.” The RU Observer, 12 September 2016,  http://ru-observer.com/2014/09/12/just-wait-until-you-see-how-much-rices-tuition-fees-have-increased-over-the-past-10-years/.

Rebloggy, 2 December 2014,  http://rebloggy.com/post/mike-brown-ferguson-utk-blacklivesmatter-black-lives-matter-madison-goes-to-coll/104173515642.

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