Washington University Archives
All three case studies of student organizing, including the formation of academic programs in Black Studies and Women’s Studies, along with the dissolution of the Sociology department, represent moments when students at WashU participated in academic activism, defending their academic freedom by advocating for a specific type of curriculum. Student activists pushed the university to expand or protect educational offerings in the College of Arts and Sciences because they believed it to be in the best interest of current and future students, as well as the broader WashU campus. Historically, university administrators, faculty, and students have disagreed upon what is best for the institution, and these disagreements often result in student protest. The short tenure of students on campus creates divisions between these parties, particularly between students and administrators, who must consider not only the institution they currently serve but also the one that will hopefully still be standing years later. Still, I argue that in all three cases, the student activists involved deliberately demonstrated an understanding of the long-lasting impact of their actions and hoped to improve the university for the next generation of scholars.
Jordon, Lexie, ""Protests Will Succeed with Persistence": Student Activism for Curricular Change at Washington University in St. Louis, 1968-1990" (2023). Mendel Sato Research Award Projects. 6.