College Student Activism, or How to “Disguise Subversive Action like a Sugar-Coated Pill”

This essay first appeared in the October 2017 issue of Choice (volume 55 | issue 2).


College student-led protests, rallies, strikes, rebellions, mass marches, sit-ins, walk-outs, acts of civil disobedience, and, yes, even the occasional riot, have occurred throughout the history of American higher education. The rough contour of student unrest is characterized by alternating ridges and valleys that reflect increasing or decreasing periods of collective engagement. It should come as no surprise that the lowest valley in modern history was from the 1940s to the mid-1950s, when millions of young people were engaged in fighting overseas during World War II and the Korean War, and radical student politics generally failed to gain traction under …

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About the author:

Robert V. Labaree, Ed.D., is international relations/political science librarian at the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, University of Southern California.