A Resurrection of Campus Activism

This was supposed to be the apathetic generation. Tell that to H. Scott Althouse, a recent graduate of Eastern College in Pennsylvania, who started an "Earthkeepers" club to promote environmentalism and global stewardship.

Or mention it to Dennis Markatos, whose organization "SURGE" at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is taking on issues from closing the Army’s School of the Americas to stopping sanctions against Iraq to protesting the working conditions of manufacturers of college logo apparel.

Or talk to Stephanie Wyatt, who just completed a yearlong internship at Virginia Tech’s Baptist Student Union, where she came at social justice from a biblical point of view.

Contrary to the generally held view that today’s college students are isolated, individualistic, and concerned only with their Internet passwords and resumes, social justice activism is thriving on campuses around the country.

But this is not their parents’ Vietnam War protests, civil rights sit-ins, or mass demonstrations. Instead, it’s e-mail list serves, internships, volunteerism, and letter-writing.

Instead of the cohesive, radical national movement of their parents, today’s student activists are straddling the line between global and local problems, trying to discover where their generation fits in the struggle for justice and peace. Many of them are coming to activism from the perspective of their religious faith—and others are not—but all have a sense of urgency that for the first time in decades, some say, is causing U.S. college students to mobilize, organize, and act together.

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