We may encourage students to set goals, follow through, and leave a legacy involving an arts festival or a new sorority. However, if we support the student who engages in a similar process involving issues of social change, it can be perceived as politically charged behavior. If, for example, a student lobbies for a publication on the experience of women of color, suddenly her behavior is called activism.
So what do I do with this dissonance? Some would do away with advocacy positions like mine. Others are still waiting for me to take down the Man. As I see it, at a time when many college educators are concerned about developing the “whole student,” our role is to support students’ interests, even when those interests lead them to activism. Why shouldn’t students have opportunities for the practical application of what they learn in the classroom? How radical is that, really? It’s not as if we’re advocating the revolution.
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