2015 has been an exciting year. In September, the Southern Poverty Law Center launched a new initiative to support student activists, SPLC on Campus. I’ve had the privilege to coordinate this program and talk to students across the country about the issues that are important to them. As I’ve worked with students to start SPLC on Campus clubs across the nation, the headlines illustrated the ever-present need for a strong network of student activists. Mizzou. Yale. Princeton. Boston College. Harvard. The list goes on. Coalitions were formed, demands were made, and the power of student voices, was once again demonstrated.
There’s been a lot to learn from the thousands of the student activists that have showed up and made headlines this year. Here are two of my main takeaways.
1. The issues we face today are not new. There has been rhetoric trying to isolate these incidents or diminish the validity of the protestors’ experiences on campus. These are not isolated incidents, they are part of much larger systemic issues.
2. Collaboration is key. When more than 30 football players at the University of Missouri demanded President Tim Wolfe resign, national headlines were made, and he resigned. Dozens of colleges joined in solidarity and I watched the student activism network grow in momentum. Students joined with fellow activists across the country strengthening the power of these protests.
These takeaways have been echoed by the students I interact with daily through SPLC on Campus. As student’s voiced their concerns, it reaffirmed the need for a campus response. It is my hope that the collective voice of the college student will grow in 2016, and SPLC on Campus will be here to support their efforts.
SPLC on Campus Coordinator