We aim to create an educational resource that teaches the inner workings of student organizing, recognizes the history of activism on our campus, and inspires future change.
Student activism is heavy emotional and physical labor for those at universities. Balancing schoolwork, jobs, and internships is already difficult enough and leaves little room to prioritize mental health and community relationships. Womyn, disabled folx, low-income students, students in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, and anyone who exists at an intersection of these bear the additional burden of navigating a campus that does not reflect nor acknowledge their needs. In most instances, the members of these communities are the ones at the forefront of change and do the most work by not only having to constantly navigate the institution, but also actively fight against it.
In addition to these factors, the short turnover rate of students makes it difficult to maintain student activism. As people graduate, they take their organizing knowledge and community relationships with them, leaving the next generation of activists to essentially reinvent the wheel, which increases the risk for burnout and contributes to the silencing of student voices.
And yet, despite all these factors working to quell students’ push for change on and off campus, students have found the strength to rise up time and time again against the University to fight for institutional and social change. They do the work to dismantle the University’s oppressive policies not only for their community, but also for those who come after them. Student activists leave behind a tangible legacy when they graduate, and that resilience, power, and history deserves to be recognized and shared.
With all these factors pushing to silence student voices, the Living History Project aims to establish a historical activist archive to support, inspire, and educate future student activists. Marginalized folx have been and continue to shape this campus, and their history can provide a sense of community, comfort, and power for current students. We hope current activists interact with and contribute to this archive to pave their own Living History moving forward.