Monday, November 23, 2009

Campus Protests

Campus protests have been in the news recently.  As this NYT story recounts, a student-led anti-sweatshop coalition on 100 campuses forced Russell Athletic to rehire over one thousand workers in Honduras.  Russell was concerned about losing business at campus bookstores and clothing shops, which sell athletic gear with school logos.  The story indicates that students engaged in a range of protest activities, including letter-writing campaigns and demonstrations.  The anti-sweatshop movement has engaged in more aggressive tactics in the past, including sit-ins.  The report indicates that students did not feel these tactics were necessary this time, although their willingness to resort to more aggressive repertoires of contention may have helped persuade university administrators to put pressure on Russell.

Meanwhile, students have been more aggressively protesting the California Board of Regent's recent decision to raise fees by 32%.  In contrast to the labor protesters, the students protesting the fee hike have engaged in tactics such as destruction of property, physical violence, and buiding sit-ins.  Police arrested a number of students on several campuses after students refused to leave university buildings.  Student leaders have made several demands, "including the impeachment of Mark G. Yudof, president of the university system; the elimination of the Regents’ positions; and an end to student fees and debts."  University officials appear to be willing to entertain more realistic demands. 

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