To walk out or not?

As we return back to our new routines and settle in for the next four months, the political struggle between the ideologies of the left and right rages on. In spite of the academic burdens we face, certain decisions from the Trump administration have brought students to excuse themselves from class in order to bring awareness to injustices both locally and across the nation.


That is why we, the Foghorn staff, ask ourselves whether student walkouts are an effective form of protest when addressing an issue outside the university. It’s important to reiterate that the Foghorn is talking strictly about advocacy for issues outside of the university’s control. Walking out of classes to protest something the university has done or can help change is an entirely different conversation. We are not debating whether students should walk out of classes, but instead if it is an effective way to make a change.  

The majority of the Foghorn staff believes that student walkouts for non-university related events undermine peaceful protest and overlook the privilege we are afforded as American university students. This privilege stems from our ability to attend a university with peers from all across the nation and the globe. We are blessed to have the financial means, or scholarship opportunities, to participate in a wide range of courses. Furthermore, we find ourselves with the chance to leave home and learn how to live a bustling city. However, the choice to walk out for any issue is personal and reflects the knowledge that the student forgoes their privilege.


Our decision was not unanimous, and we do not expect for the student body to cohesively agree on this issue, either. For the Foghorn staff who did not hold the aforementioned view, a walkout demonstrated the student’s commitment to bringing attention to a specific cause. We live in a country that promises both the freedom of speech and of expression. Walking out of classes is certainly an expression. But legality and effectiveness are two different things.


The Foghorn staff is aware that student walkouts are a tool of campus life. You don’t have to take the bus to Civic Center to protest when you could just stand up and leave the class you had to be at already. But just because a protest is easy, doesn’t mean it should be the go-to method to enact change. These walkouts are warranted in specific cases of neglect where the administration has failed to represent the interests of its students. This tool of civil disobedience cannot be taken lightly, nor can its application be frivolous. But ultimately, it is left up to the individual student to decide whether they wish to take a stand and walk out from the class.


To that end, the Foghorn staff implores students to continue advocating their beliefs. We are a diverse campus in a city founded upon many differing cultures. The university as an institution depends on allowing students’ ability to take a stand against policies which threaten their values. While we hold our belief that student walkouts are only effective at addressing school matters, we look to those who disagree to shape our campus discourse. Disagreement on the methods of civil disobedience guarantees. At no other point will an individual have a concentrated mass of peers to share their opinions than during college. It is our duty to shape the political consensus of the university and provide the administration with our shared principles.


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