On 14 October 2015, student protests began at the University of Witwatersrand in response to an announcement by the university board that there would be a 10.5% increase in tuition fees. On 15 October, students barricaded the gates of the university. Over the next two days, both student and staff members held a sit in, causing the eventual lock down of the university as the blockades obstructed lectures and activities. On 17 October, the University of Witwatersrand agreed to suspend and renegotiate the fee increases.
The 1960’s saw a surge in activism on college campuses in the United States. One of the fights occurring on college campuses was demands for ethnic studies programs and the admission of more students of color. Brooklyn College students joined this fight in 1969.
University of Sydney students uncover and protest discrimination of Aboriginal people in New South Wales, 1965
In 1965, a group of student students at the University of Sydney who were members of Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA) embarked on a two week bus ride through several towns and villages in New South Wales to draw attention to the prevalent discrimination against Aborigines in Australia. This campaign is often credited with directing national and international attention to the ongoing human rights violations against Aboriginal people and leading to the 1967 referendum that approved two amendments relating to Aboriginal rights and status in Australia.
Following Chiang Ching-kuo’s death in 1988, Lee Teng-hui continued to implement reforms. He promoted Taiwanese nationalism, and also worked to suspend the Taiwan Provincial Government, among other actions. Nonetheless, Lee Teng-hui’s actions proved to not be enough for the Taiwanese people. Frustrated with the outdated National Assembly and its members’ attempts to gain more power and influence, Taiwanese university students began to demonstrate on 16 March 1990.
After 8 years of negotiation and organizing, the New York University (NYU) Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) won voluntary recognition from NYU on 26 November 2013, partially in response to a letter signed by 1300 graduate student employees in support of unionization. The NYU administration withheld formal recognition until after 98.4 percent of graduate students voted in favor of the union on 11 December. This made NYU the first private university in the United States to recognize a graduate student union.
In 1959, Columbia University announced plans for a new gymnasium for Columbia College students and residents of the Harlem community. The gym would be segregated, with residents of the Harlem community having to enter through the basement entrance, and having limited access to the facilities. The gym was also not open for use by students from Columbia’s graduate and professional schools, Barnard College, or Teacher’s College.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Mexican-Americans struggled for equal
rights all across the Southwest in America. In Texas, campaigns for
racial equality were led primarily by organizations like La Raza (the
Resistance), MAYO (Mexican-American Youth Organization), PASSO
(Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations), and the Brown
Berets. These organizations struggled for equal rights and privileges
for Mexican-Americans in all facets of society.
During the 1960s, apartheid and political repression were near their height in South Africa. The National Party’s apartheid regime severely repressed political dissent and expression, sometimes with violence. Racial justice and democratic leftist movements suffered a severe setback in 1960 with the Sharpeville massacre, when hundreds of political protesters were injured and killed. Due to lack of public means of challenging the regime, The African Resistance Movement initiated an unsuccessful and unpopular bombing campaign in 1964.
In 1990, Fernando Collor de Mello became the first elected President after 29 years of military rule. He narrowly won his election as a center-right candidate and campaigned on fighting corruption, fighting inflation, and defending the poor. He tried various economic policies to reduce inflation and increase foreign investment but was unsuccessful in turning the economy around. His austerity measures created significant opposition.
Unlike the United States during the 1960s, the Netherlands did not have an atmosphere of racial strife or international conflict. The relative peace of the Netherlands was one potential reason why student protests for university reform first manifested as student unionism in support of democratization. Movements calling for similar university reforms occurred between 1967 and 1968 in Germany and France. The Dutch students’ protest influenced the restructuring of the Netherlands’ university system.
At the beginning of May 2013, Brazil was seen internationally as a development success and was preparing for the first of three major international sporting events in four years. However, a twenty-cent price hike in Sao Paulo’s bus and metro tickets sparked the largest protests Brazil had seen in years. The MPL (Movimento Passe Livre/Free Fare Movement) started the protests in response to the fare hikes, but the protests came to represent popular discontent with the Brazilian government.
In early 1968, the Polish
National Theater in Warsaw decided to stage a production of “Dziady,” a classic
Polish play by the revered 19th century writer Adam Modzelewski. The
production’s director, Kazmierz Dejmek, choose to highlight the text’s
connection to early Christianity as well as the story of Poland’s struggle for
liberation. Although the communist government rejected religion, no pundits
viewed the play’s content as an exceptional departure from the guidelines of
After almost ten years of guerrilla warfare, Zimbabwe achieved independence from Britain in 1980. The Lancaster House Agreement included a constitution for Zimbabwe that described a multi-party democracy.
Student activism in Thailand had grown during the 1960s as the number of students in university increased rapidly. In 1971, the Thanom Kittikachorn government launched a coup and restored authoritarian rule by disbanding the national legislature, terminating the 1968 constitution, and proclaiming martial law. On 15 December 1972, a new constitution was established that gave Prime Minister Thanom and his National Executive Council extensive power, but promised to return the country to democracy as soon as the communist threat was eliminated.
On 17 September 2000, the Ukrainian government under President Leonid Kuchma kidnapped a journalist, Georgiy Gongadze. Gongadze was known for speaking out openly against the government, using his popular radio show and website to expose the widespread corruption in Kuchma’s cabinet. His decapitated body was found two weeks later. In November, Socialist Party leader Oleksander Moroz released recordings of conversations between members of Kuchma’s party planning the execution.
During the fall of 1968, Ayub Khan celebrated his tenth year as president of Pakistan. In honor of this anniversary, he declared his reign as the “Decade of Development,” an action that sparked an outbreak of protests against the state.
Much of Pakistan was already discontent with the Ayub regime. Following the 1965 war with India, Pakistan experienced a huge economic gap. The working classes faced the burden of this disparity.
The League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) wanted to situate Yugoslavia in a balance between the Soviet dominated Eastern Europe and US dominated West. In order to ensure this global placement, Yugoslavians exercised an economic reform program during 1964-65. LCY utilized market mechanisms to overcome stagnation and stimulate economic growth, but employment and a growth in wage disparity ensued instead. Members of the Yugoslavian Student League as well as professors and editors of dissonant magazines established spaces for critique and set the stage for nonviolent
India has maintained much of its traditional caste system, which separates communities based on the socioeconomic status of the communities’ forefathers. Early 20th century constitutional reforms prevented the kind of medieval discrimination that used to make some castes literally ‘untouchable’. The untouchables were replaced by what are referred to as ‘scheduled tribes’ (STs), ‘scheduled castes’ (SCs) and ‘other backward castes’ (OBCs) that collectively refer to India’s socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Combined, they represent about 85% of India’s population.
In 1966, faced with an economic recession, the two major West German political parties--Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU)--came together to form what came to be known as the Grand Coalition. Their decision to allow Kurt Georg Kiesinger of the CDU serve as chancellor proved controversial, as Kiesinger played an active role in the foreign ministry under the Third Reich.
Amidst the omnipresence of violence during World War II, nonviolent protest is often overlooked or unheard of. However, there were several resistance campaigns that took place in Germany, led by its own citizens. One such campaign in the period of 1942-1943 was the resistance initiated by the White Rose society. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, the members of the White Rose became an influential example of student resistance against repressive regimes.
At the turn of the 20th century the university was a locus for social and political protest in Peru. Professors and student activists called for university reform, education of the masses, agrarian reform, and the rights of the worker and indigenous populations. A significant protest was mounted in Lima by University of San Marcos students in 1909 to protest the dictatorship of Augusto Leguía (1908-1912; 1919-1930). In 1916, the student organization formed the Peruvian Student Federation (FEP) incorporating students from all of Peru’s universities to direct future student protests.
By October of 1964, an issue called the “Southern Problem” had formed in Sudan. This Southern Problem was essentially a dispute between the Arabized Muslim North and Christian South of Sudan. The northern “Sudanization” of southern administrative positions and ethnic, cultural, and religious differences began to manifest in discrimination against southern Sudanese, planting the seeds for this problem.
Increased prosperity and the expansion of electoral rights at the turn of the century in Argentina precipitated significant growth in the middle class, a population shift with the majority now living in urban centers, and broader enrollment in universities, as newly prosperous families were able to send their children into higher education. The universal suffrage law of 1912 (granted to men over 18) was first applied in 1916, when Hipolito Yrigoyen of the Radical Party was elected with support from the middle and working class.
General Paul Eugène Magloire was elected President of Haiti in 1950 with ninety-nine percent of the vote in an army-monitored election and the official support of the army, church, elite, and American embassy behind him. He implemented a successful economic program and oversaw a period of the best economic growth in Haiti in a century, reforming the banking system, attracting foreign investment, fostering tourism, and instituting a Five Year Plan in 1951 to boost agricultural expenditures.
In South Korea, President Rhee Syngman of the Liberal Party won the March 1960 election with 88.7% of the votes. This implausible result was the result of election fraud: the day of the election the Liberal Party had stuffed ballots, switched ballots, and removed opposition ballots. On the eve of balloting, the police had also fired upon a group of Democratic Party supporters, killing eight. South Koreans in the city of Masan protested against the fraudulent election.