First and foremost, people want to be heard and validated. Did the president of a major university assure the student body that he heard them and that he would effect change? Additionally, and maybe more importantly, did officials attempt to engage the very constituents calling for change? Have we forgotten that our schools, both secondary and institutions of higher education, exist to serve the students and without students there would be no need for them? I would argue that the revolutionary spirit stems from the students who realize they make up over 90% of the population of a school and with that realization, these students understand who really holds the power.
What do we do, most ask? Without answers to that question, we set ourselves up for the negative publicity and the negative consequences we are seeing like key resignations, the shutting down of programs and merciless, career-killing press reports about otherwise well-meaning adults.
We continually question, and are amazed, that institutions of learning have ignored ways to “disrupt” status quo. “What status quo,” you may ask. The age old (and tired old) idea that only the administration, teachers and parents wield the power to dictate the behaviors of passionate youth! As we are beginning to see, when students organize and mobilize, the power structure definitely changes. We can and must harness this passion, energy and creativity utilizing those emotions and energies of the youth themselves.
As we see it, the only solution is engaging the very constituents who wield massive amounts of influence. We have written, tested and perfected an entire manual of ways to harness the energy that the students on a campus bring and that make the students themselves instruments of change. There are strategies that help the teachers, administrators and parents aware of the changes coming and we have found that when students feel heard and are empowered to make the changes that THEY themselves identify, magic happens and dire consequences are mitigated.