According to one magazine, Yale is an activist’s haven.
Citing the high degree of student involvement in the labor strikes, Mother Jones magazine ranked Yale 10th in its annual roundup of the top 10 activist campuses.
“This is the third time Yale has been on our list,” Mother Jones Communications Director Richard Renolds said.
Two years ago, the University was ranked first on the list after students protested against the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Meyers Squibb to make AIDS drugs more readily available to African nations. In 1996, Yale was named to the top 10 list for what the magazine said was at least a 50 percent student involvement rate in community service organizations.
The list, published in the latest Mother Jones September/October issue, said that 400 Yalies were among the 800 people arrested for blocking the intersection of College and Elm streets last September. The article also said 500 undergrads endured outdoor classes during a snowstorm as part of March’s “Education in the Streets” protest aimed to promote union solidarity.
Dwight Hall Program Director Johnny Scafidi said Yalies are becoming increasingly active.
“About 80 percent of undergraduate students would have completed some kind of community service before graduating,” Scafidi said.
Mother Jones Editorial Fellow Jai Singh said one of the main criteria in judging the level of activism among schools is the level of student involvements in protests relative to the student population. Communications Director for Mother Jones Richard Renolds added that the magazine assembles a list of colleges that “covers a range of issues.”
“Over the time that we’ve done the list, we’ve seen more and more protests over international issues and the biggest of those has been the anti-sweatshop movement, which peaked a couple of years ago,” Renolds said.
Yale Undergraduate Organizing Committee member Amelia Frank-Vitale ’05 said undergraduates promoted labor issues awareness during the strikes.
“We were really involved in disseminating information. We did a door-knocking campaign in which we talked to freshman and we also [created] a publication, ‘The Community in Crisis,’ in which we detailed the labor situation,” Frank-Vitale said.
Member of the UOC and the Yale Coalition for Peace Saqib Bhatti ’04 said he is glad to see growing student involvement in social causes.
“Since my sophomore year, I’ve seen much greater student activism, starting with Sept. 11 and the anti-war activism that followed from Afghanistan to Iraq and onto the current labor struggle,” Bhatti said. “At a protest in D.C. on October 24 of last year, we had the largest student contingent of any campus.”
Mother Jones monitored college campuses primarily in the United States for a year before releasing its rankings. But the magazine made an exception for the Iranian University of Tehran, which came in first place on the list, in light of the special set of circumstances its students encountered. At that university, 10,000 students protested the death sentence given to history professor Hashem Aghajari because he questioned why clerics alone should have the power to interpret the Koran. After the students put up the longest opposition demonstration since the 1979 revolution in Iran, Aghjari’s sentence was reduced to 74 lashes and eight years in prison.