Student protest; activism main issue for Constitution Day
By Matthew Hunt
September 18, 2012
Constitution Day at Missouri Western focused on freedom of student activism.
Dr. Angus Johnston, historian at City University of New York, was the guest speaker for the Constitution Day event held on September 17. Johnston said that campus activism today was something that people have not seen in over 20 years.
“Students rally and protest,” Johnston said. “We haven’t seen this level of attention since the 1970s.”
The event covered the speaker’s address to students and faculty and focused primarily on how far we have come as a nation. Once the speech was complete they had students break down into small workshops to focus on student organizing strategies.
Nicholas Brothers, student activist said the purpose of the event was to celebrate the Constitution. He said bringing in Johnston, a historian who specialized in student movements of the mid-20th century, was great. He said the main objective was to help instill a new recognition in our student body.
Johnston said a small group of students cant change a major policy, but said they should have some say what the university does. He said before students were able to vote at the age of 18, the only form of democracy was through protest.
“The vast majority of undergraduate students were unable to vote,” Johnston said. “It wasn’t until the 1972 election when students were able to vote.”
The reason behind Constitution Day at Western was to bring students ideas on the reasons to protest and how far we have come. Johnston said a university is more for students than faculty and administration.
“Students work on campus, and hangout on campus,” Johnston said. “It’s a place where students establish meetings, and organizations.”
Brothers said it was an enormous opportunity to see an expert speak about the power that students have had, and continue to have, in shaping a political destiny of this country and world. He said he hopes that students who attended the event will realize that together, students have power.
Daniel Radke, adjunct instructor of political science, said students need to get involved in the political process. He said Johnston was an excellent speaker for Constitution Day and covered many issues on student participation.
“I believe the speaker was fantastic,” Radke said. “We were grateful to have him here on our campus.”