(Cross-posted at Vibewire’s Media & Democracy discussion)
While I’m a fan of student activism in any form, I often wonder about the balance of self-interested and altrusistic campaigns. To my mind, the finest hour for student activists aren’t the campaigns against HECS or VSU, but those that focused instead on apartheid or reconciliation.
Two important campaigns in the US recently have been those in favour of living wages for campus janitors and security staff, and those seeking to persuade universities to divest their investments in Sudan, in response to the Darfur crisis. A friend of mine, Bec Hamilton, has been involved in the latter campaign, and wrote a nice piece about it in the Boston Globe recently.
This is not to say that students shouldn’t campaign on issues that directly affect them (everyone else does!), but it suggests to me that perhaps one way of being "heard and seen" is to focus on issues that go beyond self-interest.