In 1968, Washington Governor Dan Evans said that college students were one of the greatest political forces in the nation. Recently, however, it has been suggested that students are largely apathetic about social issues and that student activism is dead in the '90's. In response to these claims, the magazine Mother Jones recently released its list of the top ten activist universities in the nation, and Duke and UNC finished first and eighth, respectively. In addition, the first October issue of The Nation featured several campuses and activist movements. Both magazines recognized Duke and UNC for action on one high-profile issueoverseas labor practices of the corporations producing university-licensed athletic apparel.
Despite this notoriety, large questions remain. What does it mean to be a student activist in the '90's? Is the issue of sweatshops/sportswear the only important one inspiring our local college campuses? How many students really care about the plight of poor, third world workers? Is activism a mainstream component of the local intellectual climate, or has it been relegated to a fringe activity?
With the global market constantly expanding, the demand for skilled laborers is high. Still, the job landscape is highly competitive, and students are under a great deal of pressure to perform. In addition, college tuition is a heavy burden for many, thus mandating achievement as a return on such a substantial investment. It makes you wonder how anyone finds time to be active in social issues. Yet, some students make time. In this month's Prism, we take a glance at some local student involvement.
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