10 years ago, a small group of students came together to make progress on an issue that they felt was not getting enough attention—the human rights abuses happening in North Korea. Today, the result of that group is Liberty in North Korea and we still very much rely on the power of students, through our Rescue Teams, to move this issue forward.
LiNK is not the only non-profit started by students and the human rights crisis in North Korea is not the only issue that students have fought for. Here are four examples of other student movements.
1. Pink Shirt Day
After 9th-grader Charles McNeill was bullied for wearing pink on the first day of school, fellow students Travis Price and David Shepherd gave out 50 pink t-shirts in an effort to rally behind him. This small act made waves, eventually spreading across Canada and other parts of the world. Now, the last Wednesday of February and the second Thursday in September are know as Pink Shirt Day and are celebrated with a focus on preventing bullying.
2. Ending rape culture on campus
Student Andrea Pino felt let down by the University of North Carolina after she was raped at an off-campus party. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, an academic adviser told her she was lazy when her classroom performance fell following the attack and she received no support from her resident assistant. Pino joined with other survivors of sexual assault to file a federal complaint against UNC, a move that spread to several other colleges across the country and started an outpouring of student activism on the issue.
“It was really about seeing the same problems happening at all these different schools… Learning about their stories and seeing how their experiences so closely mirrored mine,” Pino said.
3. UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement
In the 1930s, the University of California system instituted a number of policies to prevent students groups from operating on campus if they engaged in off-campus politics. To get around the restrictions, students at UC Berkeley tabled on the city sidewalk near campus. When the campus border moved a couple streets away, the students moved too. Because the new area was impossibly tiny, Berkeley’s Chancellor allowed a small plaza just inside the new campus boundary to be used by student political groups.
In 1964, the school’s administration took the plaza space away. In response, massive student protests erupted. Thousands of students took over the plaza, insisting that the university lift the restrictions on on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech.
Eventually, the University’s administration relented and an area was reserved on campus for students to engage in political activity.
4. Hungarian Revolution of 1956
In October 1956, a group of Hungarian students created a list of 16 demands against the Soviet-imposed policies that gripped their country. The demands included the immediate evacuation of all Soviet troops and general elections by secret ballot.
After marching through Budapest, the students tried to enter a radio building to voice their demands on air. The group was detained before they had the chance. When unarmed demonstrators gathered outside the broadcasting station to call for the students’ release, they were fired upon by the state security police. This event sparked the revolution, which spread like wildfire across Hungary. The government collapsed temporarily, but by 1957 a new Soviet government arose.
Though the uprising failed, it planted the seeds for the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.
Students can make a difference when they join together for a common cause. That’s what Summit is all about. This two-day, student-focused event will unite this generation to share knowledge and ideas to help solve one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today.