American college student activists, long seen as a bellwether for populist outrage, are missing in action. They are not staging protests concerning political, social and financial issues which affect them more directly and more profoundly than another other generation of Americans. Current college student passivity is both surprising and disappointing.
Last week, more than a million French students and workers rioted in protest of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recommendation to increase the retirement age by two years from 60 to 62. From Lyons to Marseilles to Paris, French student anger over decisions about their futures dominated French news. Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 in a country that only has a 35 hour work week seems hardly dire, yet French students took to the streets.
American students, by comparison, have staged only lukewarm protests over the changes to state university education loan policies, to the plight of the treatment of farm workers in Florida, and outrage over cancellation of sign language classes. Students have even protested oversexed apparel advertisements, but on the critical issues of the day, where a misguided Congress and the Obama Administration have enacted flawed policies that will shackle American youth to a future of burdensome debt and a lower standard of living, students have been silent. The question is why?