A spectre is haunting Foothill – the spectre of activism.
I know. That’s over the top. But it’s been thrilling to see that almost every week, President Thuy has helped pull together a new, practically impromptu gathering on campus in response to current events. So far, students attend en masse, and the topics have all been so interesting – Fake News, Banned 7 – that I’m more disappointed than ever that my teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to attend.
Every quarter, I track as much as I can of what’s happening on campus and then periodically offer my students extra credit to attend activities and report back to me. This quarter, the responses have had a different edge. While in the past, many of my students wrote about what I hoped they would – that they felt a stronger connection to the community at Foothill – this quarter, students are hinting that they might take it a step further and actually get active on campus.
I’ve excerpted a sampling of their reactions to recent campus activities:
“…I understand that there is more than simply proclaiming my support, I must also take action.”
“After hearing this talk, what i know is not just to sit there and watch things getting worse but to take an action. What we all can do is that we can be a part of protests that are against the ban and also, we can contact the senators to talk about the ban or even just by posting things about how you feel about this immigration order on social media. I believe every little actions counts and gets congregated and make a big change.”
“The really terrible part is that these people are victims and refugees and after experiencing violence and corruption in their homeland the United States are not only closing their doors to them, but have also labeled them as the oppressors and terrorists. The victims of the crime are being called criminals[…] It is very disheartening that after all these examples in history we are still making the same mistakes. On the bright side, many people in our community are coming together to fight this modern times segregation…”
This poses a fascinating opportunity for us as faculty and staff at Foothill. We can engage our students with these new movements on campus where they can see how problems in the world connect directly to their own peers. They’re seeing how the news from around the globe is actually news about their fellow students who may be sitting next to them in class. And it’s not as if many of these problems hadn’t existed for our students before, but now they’re coming up more obviously to the surface. In the same way, their education has always been something they could use to be transformative in the world, but now that’s more tangible. Students can’t help but realize that what they’re doing at Foothill College already has global implications.
I also know there are plans already in motion to bring back student led journalism on campus. It couldn’t be more timely. Students are listening, they want to act, and pretty soon they’ll be using free press to write about it too.