This piece is part of a series about student activism at Minerva written by Aspen Pflughoeft (M’22). You can also read the companion reflection piece here.
Over the last seven years, Minerva students and Mineva staff have collaboratively shaped the institution that exists today. For Minerva and Minervans, the university’s only institutional constant appears to be its ever-changing nature (and Ben Nelson). Along the way, what have students sought to change about Minerva? How have students gone about their activist efforts within Minerva? How far did they get? And what comes next?
In short, what is the history of student activism at Minerva?
These questions drove the creation of this partial historical account and produced this work of student archivist history. As used here, “student activism at Minerva” or “Minerva student activism” refers to efforts by Minerva students to enact change within Minerva. This account will focus on student activism efforts to change Minerva Schools at KGI from the matriculation of the Founding Class in Fall 2014 to Summer 2021 when the school received accreditation and became Minerva University.
In a geographically dispersed university, passing information across often-segmented groups of students has always posed challenges. This account attempts to fill one such information gap. At this stage, this account is not complete. However, even a partial account of the history of student activism at Minerva provides a foundation for expansion, refinement, and correction.
In reconstructing the history of Minerva student activism, this account draws on two source bases: Quest articles and a student survey. The survey was open to students who felt they had participated in student activism and students who felt they had not participated in student activism. Due to the sensitive nature of activism work, the survey gave respondents the option of answering anonymously, consenting to the use of their full name, or consenting to the use of just their last name. At the time of publication, the survey had 52 responses. Although skewed toward current upper classes and most recent graduates, the survey received responses from every cohort of Minerva students (M’19 to M’25, see the figure below). These responses tended to complement or supplement the information provided in Quest articles with personal commentary. No answers contradicted pre-existing Quest articles. Together, this broad source base offers a mosaic of the stories and histories of student activism at Minerva.
Note: Any survey responses received after 11:59 PM GMT on 16 December 2021 have not been incorporated into this report. The survey is still open for student responses.
You can fill out the survey here with a uni.minerva.edu email address.
If you have any questions or would prefer to share your experiences in another medium (interview, audio, etc.) reach out to Aspen Pflughoeft at [email protected].
Overview of Student Activism at Minerva
Student activism at Minerva may be as diverse as the Minerva student community. The causes, strategies, experiences, and tactics of Minerva students have varied over time. When sharing her experiences, Isabel Rousmaniere (M’20) identified two common activist approaches. Some students employed inside-out advocacy, pushing for change within existing structures. Conversely, some students employed outside-in advocacy, pushing against existing structures for change.
According to Rousmaniere, “I tended to be on the ‘work within the system’ side of Minerva student activism. My way of trying to make change was through strategic relationships and conversations with staff; participation in school-sanctioned systems like the ASM; finding opportunities to facilitate conversations or advocate to administrators through my work-study positions on the SXP or RA teams; sending emails or showing up to meetings; and even writing academic assignments about issues at Minerva.” Still, she said, “I have a lot of appreciation and admiration for students who did more outside-in advocacy; […] I think a balance of both approaches is necessary.”
These two divergent yet complementary approaches to student activism at Minerva provide a useful analytical framework for understanding activist expressions of agency.
The Challenges of Student Activism at Minerva
Student activism within Minerva’s atypical university context has presented its own unique set of complex institutional dynamics and potential obstacles. These challenges have shaped why, when, where, how, and which students push for change.
Some challenges to student activism at Minerva have taken the form of institutional structures. For example, the physical distance between Minerva cities has hindered cross-class information sharing. According to Petter Hallqvist (M’23), this “physical barrier” has made it harder for students seeking to protest and for administrators seeking to understand needed changes.
Similarly, the segmentation of different cohorts has also hindered information-sharing and, consequently, student activism efforts. As Nebraska Mae Grayson (M’21) told the Quest, “while the category of classes by year is not ‘othering’ intrinsically, this separation has convenient ways of not framing the student body as a whole which can learn from each other and pass down legacies of knowledge about activism. The administration benefits from students not working across class[es] to build activist organizations because when the same or similar problems pop up, there is not the shared historical knowledge among students of how it has been approached in the past and the best way forward.”
Other dynamics shaping student activism have taken the form of cultural norms. For example, student engagement has previously been gender-skewed towards women, according to a November 2020 analysis by Ang Li-Lian (M’22).
To further complicate matters, Minerva student activists have faced barriers at multiple stages. Among survey respondents, the most common barriers to initial participation in student activism included lack of time, lack of energy, lack of personal connection to the issue(s), and perceived lack of cooperation from the administration. Even when students overcome these initial obstacles, student activists reported they experienced additional barriers to the success of their efforts and the continuation of their efforts. Student activists shared that they had faced challenges of activist burnout, issue complexity, lack of continuity in staff, between cohorts, and across ASM representatives, and an uncooperative or bureaucratic Minerva administration.
“I think activism is just harder to have during the school year (which is, I think, when it’s most important) because of the time commitment it requires, and there is already very limited time due to academics, work-study, and personal stuff,” responded Juan Castro Fernandez (M’21). “And for the people who are most affected by the problems that activism is trying to solve, there is even less time for them to spend it fighting against it.”
Yet, faced with these challenging structures, Minerva students have still pushed for change.
Thematically Grouped Histories of Student Activism at Minerva
Rather than present a chronological account of all activist efforts from Fall 2014 to Spring 2021, this account offers a thematic grouping of the histories of student activism around different issues. Based on Quest article categorization and the responses of surveyed students, Minerva student activism has fallen into eleven thematic groups: finances, housing, anti-racism, sexual education, mental health, accommodations, student representation, academics, African rotation city, environmental sustainability, and gender dynamics. These themes are ordered from most visible to least visible based on the answers of survey respondents. Within each theme, this account provides a roughly chronological history.
Disclaimer: The author of this report served on ASM, participated in the Day of Action, signed petitions to move the San Francisco residence hall, led a Quest series on Privileges and Prejudices at Minerva, and contributed — as a writer or an editor — to a significant number of the Quest articles that served as the source base for this report.
For a longer reflective discussion of these dynamics, please read the companion PERSPECTIVES article here.
Finance-Related Student Activism
According to survey respondents, the most visible issue for student activism is finances (48 out of 52 respondents or 92% of respondents). Most of these activism efforts on financial dynamics have taken place since January 2019 and focused on financial aid.
In January 2019, the upcoming ASM elections prompted Victoria Gomes (M’20) to post about financial privilege at Minerva in a private Facebook group of Minerva students. This post resonated with Rebecca Mqamelo (M’21) and inspired her to publish a Quest op-ed on the subject. “The post and article argue that both the formal institutions of Minerva and informal student culture tend to exclude and ignore students who are less well off,” reported Suraj Paneru (M’20) on the Quest. What started as a Facebook post led to cross-class discussions about financial inequity at Minerva. In these discussions, transparency in financial aid emerged as a common theme. ASM began working on this topic and repeatedly met with Minerva’s staff to discuss concerns and improvements.
Identifiable student activism on financial aid appeared to fade after the spring of 2019, but students’ underlying concerns did not.
In the spring of 2020, Minerva students pushed for the improvement of financial aid on an unprecedented scale. In April 2020, a group of students organized a Day of Action to call attention to “widespread concerns about financial aid” and the lack of transparent communication on financial aid processes. According to Anna Mukhlaeva (M’21), one of the student organizers, the initiative stemmed from “several heated discussions” in private student Facebook groups.
On Monday, April 13, Minerva students were encouraged to email their professors about the issues related to financial aid, skip class, cover their cameras for class, or show a dollar sign or other protest message while in class.
Ahead of the Day of Action, the student organizers sent an email to the administration saying, “we are bringing attention to the urgent needs of students regarding financial aid,” student organizers wrote in an email to Minerva administrators. Despite past appeals to administration individually and through ASM, the responses to financial aid issues have been insufficient and left students with unworkable circumstances. From conversations within the community, we know that there are widespread issues and that action is needed.” This email listed six demands, five of which related to increased transparency in financial aid processes. Students demanded that the administration clearly communicate changes to the student handbook, provide information on attendance costs and term bills when financial aid packages are released, announce and explain any changes to payments, share the guidelines used for financial aid investigation with students, and hire at least one additional staff member to support the finance team. The complete list of the Day of Action demands can be viewed here with a uni.minerva.edu email.
This Day of Action email received 241 student signatures before it was sent to the administration and more than a dozen more signatures after it was sent.
According to Emma Stiefel (M’21) ‘s Quest report on the initiative, “some students had expressed fear that participating in the Day of Action might result in punishment. When asked about these concerns, [Ben] Nelson told the Quest that students who protested in a non-disruptive way were ‘fully within their rights and would not be disciplined.”
Regardless of these concerns, the Day of Action involved “over 40 percent” of the existing student body. As Allison Lehn (M’23) explained, “the financial aid protest had a low barrier of entry (e.g. paint a dollar sign on your face during class) and was widely organized.”
Later in the day, on Monday, April 13, the Senior Team announced that they would hold a virtual Town Hall on April 17 days later to discuss student financial aid concerns. The Senior Team also promised to send a written response to the student demands at least 24-hours ahead of the Town Hall.
Four days later, about 217 students and staff attended the virtual Town Hall. ASM moderated the discussion, which centered on student concerns about an “unannounced increase in loans,” another staff member dedicated to the financial aid team, and improved transparency and communication. According to a Quest report by Erin Paglione (M’21) and Kroner (M’20), “there was widespread frustration during and immediately after the town hall, especially in regards to the responses to questions about the loan cap increase and staff communication.”
In the months following the Day of Action and Town Hall, the Quest reported extensively on student financial aid. This included a large-scale survey on and analysis of student experiences with financial aid, an accompanying series of 11 in-depth financial aid profiles, two lengthy reports detailing the process of financial aid packages and the transparency of financial aid communication, and data analysis of how currencies and exchange rates influence finances at Minerva.
“Quest became a big help in bringing issues to [people’s] attention in a well researched way,” shared Paglione (M’21), the author of numerous Quest articles on finances at Minerva and former Quest Editor-in-Chief. “I think it got the attention of [the] Senior Team and students and helped to keep things going after people may have previously given up.”
Stiefel (M’21), another prolific Quest writer and former Quest Editor-in-Chief, echoed these sentiments, saying, “information and communication is crucial — keep Quest alive!”
According to survey responses from Meliane Hwang (M’23) and an anonymous M’23 student, other efforts to improve student financial dynamics have included the establishment of a Student Emergency Fund in spring 2020, now managed by ASM, and a fall 2020 petition to change the finance policies for remote students. These efforts, however, have received less documentation.
Housing-Related Student Activism
The topic of housing intersected with numerous other issues of student activism. Diba Ismaili (M’24) and Ariane Desrosiers (M’23) shared examples of efforts to improve environmental sustainability at the residence hall. An anonymous M’21 respondent shared examples of efforts to improve housing accommodations. More than 86%% of survey respondents reported that they had seen student activism attempt to change or improve Minerva’s housing and residence hall life (45 out of 52 respondents).
Naturally, student activism on this topic has varied from residence hall to residence hall over time. For example, Paglione (M’21) mentioned student efforts to address the kitchen cleanliness, rat infestation, and lack of light in the hallways of the old Market Street residence hall. Similarly, a Quest article also mentioned student efforts to address the mice problem at this old residence hall.
The residence hall that generated the most vigorous push for change is the current Turk Street residence hall. In November 2020, Quest published a data analysis of the value of Minerva housing. In spring 2021, students created and circulated a petition to move the residence hall due to safety concerns, according to multiple survey respondents. In May 2020, the Quest published a data analysis of student safety incidents around this residence hall. As of December 2021, the residence had not been moved.
Anti-Racism Student Activism
Student efforts to address racism at Minerva qualified as one of the newest topics of student activism. Before summer 2020, the only documented student activism efforts relatively related to this topic included a December 2018 Quest op-ed article on racial and ethnic diversity at Minerva and a Quest op-ed article in October 2019 on multidimensional diversity at Minerva.
Despite the newness of student anti-racism efforts, 75% of survey respondents reported seeing students push for change on the topic of racism at Minerva (39 out of 52 respondents).
Substantial efforts from students — and staff — to address racism at Minerva began in response to the murder of George Floyd in the U.S. in May 2020 and the revival of the U.S.-based Black Lives Matter Movement during the summer of 2020. In June 2020, the administration announced and hosted Precedent, “a series of four conversations between Minerva students, alumni, staff, faculty, and external guests about racism” in the U.S., according to a Quest report on the event. Precedent immediately drew criticism from students for its approach to anti-racism work. Three students published their opinions in a series of Quest op-ed articles.
Multiple other Minerva anti-racism initiatives took place over the summer of 2020. These initiatives, namely a collection of Working Groups and a Summer Incubator project, were not entirely grassroots student initiatives. Instead, these initiatives initially emerged as a collaborative endeavor between students, staff, and faculty. According to a Quest report on the topic, the goal of these working groups was to research and develop sets of recommendations for the administration on how to make Minerva an anti-racist institution. Each of the six working groups had a different focus area; these included: student life programming, Minerva Project partnerships, student culture, context in the curriculum, outreach and admissions, and internal work culture and hiring processes.
By the end of August, all working groups submitted their recommendations to the administration, who, in September, responded with a plan of action. According to a Quest report on the topic, this plan of action included having the administration “report back to the Minerva community on a regular basis, with the next update coming at the beginning of next semester,” or spring 2021.
Outside of these collaborative student-staff initiatives, a few entirely student-led initiatives emerged to address racism at Minerva. Students Organizing Against Racism (SOAR) was formed in the summer of 2020 and continued into fall 2020. SOAR aimed to be a “meeting place for the many student efforts towards anti-racism at Minerva,” according to a Quest report by Aspen Pflughoeft (M’22) and Maya Cohen (M’22) on the topic. SOAR’s most concrete initiative included an Instagram account discussing racism at Minerva. Additionally, in fall 2020, the Quest published a series of four op-ed articles where students shared their experiences with privilege and prejudice at Minerva.
The outcome of student anti-racism efforts remained disputed. “During summer 2020, it felt like all hands on deck,” shared an anonymous M’23 who participated in a working group. “Many people were involved and there was a lot of attention afforded. Afterwards, there wasn’t enough support or prioritization on Minerva’s side so it just fizzled out.”
Sexual Education-Related Activism
This theme includes student efforts to address sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual health resources, and sex education programming. Roughly two-thirds of respondents reported seeing student activism on these issues (34 out of 52 students or 65% of respondents). However, only six students mentioned any specific activism initiatives. These initiatives included conversations in fall 2018 on sexual assault, efforts from 2019 to 2020 on sex education, events in fall 2019 by a student group named The Feminist Coalition (FemCo) for students in Seoul, efforts in spring 2020 on sexual harassment, and a working group in summer 2020 on sexual harassment.
Mental Health-Related Student Activism
In January 2018, Adrian Stein (M’20) and Kay (Esther) Wenger (M’20) co-authored a Quest op-ed article on “the dismal state of mental health” for the M’19 and M’20 classes who were in Seoul at the time. According to Stein (M’20), the goal of the article was “calling for action from the leadership team.” This article marked the first use of Quest as a strategic platform for bringing issues to the administration’s attention and for supporting student activism efforts. In subsequent years, other Quest articles were published on various topics but with the same goal of administrative action.
In March 2020, the Quest published a series of reports on CAPS at Minerva. This series did not discuss student efforts to improve the mental health services available for students. However, more than half of survey respondents reported that they had seen Minerva student activism on the topic of mental health (29 out of 52 students or 56% of students). Still, only three students provided further details on these efforts to improve mental health resources.
Briefly, in fall 2020, students developed and launched a mental health peer support system, according to respondents. This system, however, proved unsustainable. An anonymous M’21 respondent shared that they had “worked on a lot of initiatives related to mental health.”
According to Lina Della Libera (M’22), another student involved in these initiatives, “we organized some student peer support across cohorts and incorporated ourselves into ASM to be more effective in working with Minerva as an institution. I successfully ran for ASM with that goal in mind spring of 2021, and since then we have worked closely with the CAPS team and actually seen some changes: For example, our stories on mySSP were part of what led to the service being replaced with TalkSpace over the summer. All of our input also led to the switch from in-person to continuous but remote services.”
Accommodations-Related Student Activism
More than half of surveyed students reported seeing Minerva students seek to change accommodations (28 out of 52 students or 54% of students). However, no Quest articles have reported on these efforts, and only five respondents gave further details on these accommodation activism efforts.
One anonymous M’19 student shared that they had participated in working groups on accommodation in 2018. Two other students shared that they had pushed for improvements to accommodations in individual discussions with administrators. Both an M’22 respondent and an M’23 respondent shared that portions of their cohort had advocated for accommodations on behalf of another student.
According to Hallqvist (M’23), “we are supposed to be innovating in education, not recreating a rigid system.” Similarly, an anonymous M’21 student shared that “accommodations were and still are in a really bad situation.”
Student Representation-Related Activism
The first stages of a coherent Minerva student government began in the spring of 2016 by a working group of M’19 students, according to Antonia Schroeder (M’20). This early group of students was referred to as The Associated Students of Minerva (ASM) Commission and were tasked with developing a structure for a formal student government, The Associated Students of Minerva (ASM). “The ASM Commission, composed of four — initially five — members of the Class of 2019 […] had been voted into office in February 2016 to develop the final charter by Spring 2017,” wrote Louis Brickman (M’19) in a later Quest report. “An interim ASM with a temporary charter was also elected in February.”
As an anonymous M’19 respondent recalled, “I started ASM with three other students from the Inaugural Class to give students a direct representative that had a seat at the table with the leadership team. We set up a vote for all students to be able to propose governance models, and then ran the election under that selected model a couple months later.”
Since the start of Minerva, “there have been issues that the students wanted to address with the administration where the processes for interaction were not clear,” Stein (M’20) wrote in a report on the ASM charter debates. “This has led to the formation of working groups on creating a charter for a student organization and government.” However, the discussions about all students formally ratifying a charter for ASM sparked tensions between M’19 students, who had been iterating on ASM models and charters since early 2016, and M’20 students, who had not been included in the charter process until the end of 2016.
“Around December 2016, I was one of the first M20 to get involved in the creation of ASM,” Schroeder (M’20) recalled. “Setting up the ASM it felt like initially the main obstacle was the class above us, M’19, as well as my fellow classmates. In the end I don’t think any of my ideas made it into the charter. It felt so frustrating that I didn’t actually run for ASM until several years later.”
In January 2017, when the ASM Commission proposed its charter for ASM and scheduled a vote on its ratification, some M’20 students responded by proposing an alternative charter.
Leading up to the ratification vote, the ASM Commission shared a rationale to the student body, advocating for the ASM. “During our first semester there were various times the administration was unable or unwilling to work with students because there was no centralized means of contact. Often people felt only individuals with specific [work-study] internships, relationships, or access to [Minerva] HQ were given a voice and feedback was done by those with the loudest voices. These issues, in conjunction with the fact that the school will not always be less than 300 people, has led us to create a structure for student representation.”
In a schoolwide vote on January 13, 2017, M’19 and M’20 students ratified the charter developed by the ASM Commission. According to Brickman (M’19)’s Quest report on the event, “nearly two-thirds of the student body voted in favor of the charter, issuing a decisive mandate for the ASM. […] Average turnout among both classes was 70%, voting on average 81% in favor of the charter.”
Following the formal creation of the ASM, M’19’s and M’20’s held the first ASM elections in late January 2017. These elections included a “Meet the Candidates” session for open discussion between those running for ASM and the rest of the cohort. In this session and in subsequent sessions, communication emerged as a central theme. Subsequent elections followed this model of holding “Meet the Candidates” sessions before the polls opened.
Within a year of its formal ratification, the ASM emerged as one of the most well-documented student activism efforts. Much of this early documentation came in the form of weekly Quest articles written by Stein (M’20). According to a Quest report from mid-October 2017, “Adrian Stein will be reporting on ASM issues throughout this semester for Class of 2019 and Class of 2020.”
Throughout the fall of 2017, the ASM worked extensively on developing and improving communication systems and student-staff feedback mechanisms, per Stein (M’20) ‘s October 15 report. This included a website, email address, newsletter, and Facebook profile. The ASM also held town halls and established working groups. In its early stages, the ASM faced numerous bureaucratic challenges while trying to figure out what it looked like to follow and amend the charter. One such challenge included a debate on whether or not ASM representatives could correct spelling errors in proposed amendments.
By January 2018, the ASM had given its first input on some of Minerva’s policies, namely the academic policies for tardiness and class absences. In response to this ASM development, Stein (M’20) reported that students felt a mixture of excitement and dissatisfaction, recognizing that ASM had made progress but still had a long way to go.
In the spring of 2019, the ASM represented four classes of Minerva students for the first time. At least for the class of 2021, increasing open communication and increasing the ASM’s influence remained a common theme in the lead-up to the elections.
The ASM became one of the few lasting cross-class initiatives for information-sharing and student connection. It provided an example of individual student activism that established an ongoing structure for supporting student activism. The ASM still exists today, as evidenced by the survey responses of numerous current ASM representatives. Both during and since the creation of the ASM, Minerva students have held a variety of opinions about the influence and significance of the ASM.
“After my time serving,” shared an anonymous M’19 respondent, “I felt ASM became an ally [to the leadership team] that helped communicate decisions and questions to students, rather than an organization that challenged decisions with more decisiveness. We could have probably been a bit more aggressive, and it may have led to better outcomes in the long term. But, overall, there were some positive changes and revised decisions that came out of it. I don’t regret it, but it was very difficult.”
After running for and being elected to ASM in 2019, Schroeder reflected, “it was only then that I really understood that the true obstacle was administration. We had to work so hard to be included in decisions and meetings. I never really felt that we were truly consulted on important matters. It’s strange, all this time I think I was spending my energy on barking up the wrong tree. I wonder how different things would have been if we had not spent those first months arguing with each other and rather argued with the people in charge.”
An anonymous M’23 student commented that “they [the ASM] are already doing so much unpaid labor and should not be held responsible for so much.”
Academics-Related Student Activism
Since fall 2014, Minerva students have pushed for various improvements in academics. According to survey respondents, some of these change efforts focused on improving specific courses or curriculums; other change efforts focused on improving academic policies.
According to the summary of an anonymous M’19 respondent, student activists in 2015 made the plea for the administration to “please stop quizzes every day and make assignment deadlines 11pm instead of 6pm.” From 2015 to 2017, student activists made the plea for the administration to “change how grading works.” From 2018 to 2019, student activists made the plea for the administration to “stop changing the requirements for Capstone.”
Since at least fall 2017, student activism efforts have also sought to improve the class absence policy. By January 2018, ASM representatives had worked with the administration on improving the absence policy. “The strictness of the policies has been toned down somewhat with more lates and absences allowed, although the trade-off is that students must complete make-up work for all missed classes,” explained Stein (M’20) in a Quest report on ASM. “The administration has promised that this move will be accompanied by more engaging make-up work tasks to increase learning value.”
Efforts to improve the absence policy continued. According to an anonymous M’23 respondent, they met with the administration in spring 2021 to discuss changes to this policy. Although these efforts received no immediate response, the administration announced a new class absence policy in Fall 2021. “The reasons provided for the change was almost word for word what I told her during our call, so I’m quite certain they made the change (at least partly) because of me,” shared the anonymous M’23 student.
African Rotation City-Related Student Activism
Although no students explicitly acknowledged this theme of activism, four students shared about their efforts to add an African city to the global rotation. These efforts have primarily taken the form of ASM and non-ASM working groups ongoing since spring 2019, reported Mark Ndoli (M’22), L Xia (M’22), and Hwang (M’23).
According to Grace Sommers (M’22), who has been involved with these efforts since fall 2018, “it seems like Minerva is a bit more receptive to the idea of adding an African global rotation city than they were when I entered Minerva.”
Environmental Sustainability-Related Student Activism
Although the Quest has published multiple reports on external student activism related to climate change, the Quest has not published on student environmental sustainability efforts within Minerva. However, three students mentioned the topic in their survey responses.
In September 2019, a group of students formed the Sustainability Union of Minerva to promote sustainable behaviors within the Minerva community, reported Desrosiers (M’23). “We lead events, campaigns, [and] projects on sustainable behaviors in Minerva cities (e.g. recycling, food waste, clothes swaps, etc). We also had task forces on broader things (e.g., circular economy and carbon emissions) where we worked on a carbon offset calculator for flights and on instituting a system of storage in each city.” The Sustainability Union of Minerva still exists today and actively pushes for environmentally conscious behaviors.
Desrosiers (M’23) also shared that a student team had worked with the faculty sustainability committee from April to September 2020.
Additionally, Ismaili (M’24) shared that she spent spring 2021 “trying to make the San Francisco residence hall policies greener and prevent food waste. I advocated for us to stop using single-use plastic gloves in the kitchen and stop the weekly refrigerator clean-ups that ended in mountains of food being wasted.” She said her efforts had mixed effectiveness.
Gender Dynamics-Related Student Activism
One respondent, Rousmaniere (M’20), mentioned that various student groups had held a series of events on gender dynamics within the Minerva community. These events included, in spring 2017, “arts-based workshops” and, in spring 2018, “the Something In Between performance project” as well as “Minerva Feminist Collective events and conversations about gender dynamics in the community.” Rousmaniere (M’20) emphasized that she participated in all of these events, but “they were absolutely group organization efforts.”
The Future of Student Activism at Minerva?
“What do you think is next for student activism at Minerva?” This was one of the last questions in the survey about Minerva student activism. Student responses provided thoughtful reflections on the current state of student activism at Minerva and a mixture of hopes and concerns for the future state of student activism at Minerva.
Some respondents, like Paglione (M’21), Sommers (M’22), and Maxine Gill (M’24), identified housing as the next issue for Minerva student activism. Other students, such as Grayson (M’21), Hallqvist (M’23), and two anonymous M’23 respondents, identified a need for more effective activism strategies that engaged students across classes.
“I think there will be more [student activism] especially as the school grows,” shared Chisom Egwuatu (M’19). “Some of the problems my class faced still exist today. So, I am expecting that there will just be more and more people highlighting these issues, leading grassroots efforts to enact change and even more innovative solutions that may or may not build off of ideas tried by other classes.”
To Ndoli (M’22), the next step is “developing a roadmap for students to identify how to drive the change they desire. This will be helpful for students to navigate the constantly evolving Minerva structure[s].” Similarly, Hwang (M’23) responded that “I think it is crucially important for groups to document what they have done and what they hope to do; being able to pass down progress is important.”
However, according to Elianna DeSota (M’23), the next step for student activism at Minerva is “a response” from the Minerva administration.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences of student activism with the Quest, please reach out to Aspen Pflughoeft at [email protected]
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