Letter to the Editor
Student activism as a method for critical thinking
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For the past few weeks, demonstrators at CSUSM, protesting on behalf of diversity and in response to the sudden departure of former Diversity Chair, Arturo Ocampo, have been chanting:
“Ain’t no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop,” and “Say what?”
Some people drive quickly by protesters. Others are more inquisitive, approaching to hear the message or contest it. Students’ courage in participating in these protests can’t be denied or overlooked. The students have been seeking answers from President Haynes that cannot be obtained by any other means.
Engaging in this type of activism is a way of participating in a democratic process and developing the critical thinking skills that are expected by professors at university campuses. Whether it be a protest of a few students, a sit in or a march, students and other youth are activating their critical thinking skills by engaging in local politics. Should we not welcome this unified voice of critical debate?
The need for students to become immersed in their education should be the goal of any university. Students should think critically about their community, and they should actively participate in helping to develop it.
The demonstrations, by which student activists are getting involved in their own communities, are full of life and spirit. Let’s magnify the chants of students clamoring in sync, protesting. Let’s reignite the need to look at the world differently and use other means to creatively change the world. It is this spirit of idealism that has long left us in the shadows of the political machine, awaiting changes that only elected officials, or “intellectuals” can solve.
According to Paulo Freire, the need for reflection and action is necessary to enhance the transformation of students into informed and actively participating members of community, Education should be utilized as a means for students to critically analyze everything and attempt to solve social problems. The creative approach by students to begin dialogue on the issues affecting them should not be diminished or downplayed. Their contentions and protests should be heard and we should stand in solidarity with the students who are participating in an action forward movement.
Sure, activism can be disruptive, chaotic and build tension, but what politician isn’t out there on national television declaring erroneous wars on peoples and threatening their livelihoods in the name of national security?
It was Martin Luther King Jr. that taught us that in order to get to the root cause of an issue we must first start with tension of some sort. Student activism and protests are that tension. I would hope that as students and professors, we can surely align ourselves with and be proud of our peers, students and colleagues whom are actively utilizing their education on our college campuses to enhance their critical thinking skills. Let us welcome student activism as a form of critical thinking.