Campus clashes and protests echo 1968

Recent protests at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus have reignited discussions about the role of student activism in shaping societal discourse. The demonstrations, which began early May and culminated in a significant show of dissent last weekend, have drawn comparisons to the historic protests of 1968, a pivotal moment in American history.

In a scene reminiscent of the past, students flooded the campus grounds, rallying against perceived injustices and demanding systemic change. The grievances voiced by today’s protesters mirror those of their predecessors from over five decades ago, underscoring the enduring relevance of issues such as racial inequality, police brutality, and academic freedom.

Fifth-year UCLA business student, Jason Myriak feels the same way when analyzing similarities from past protests to the current ones at UCLA.

“There are so many protests that have happened in the past years, and even the protests that have happened all the way in the 1960s or 1980s they all correlate,” Myriak said. “I feel they all had a significant correlation to each other and it is disgusting that situations like this are still happening today because society can’t learn from their mistakes, so people have to show them that in a more impactful manner.”

Comparisons to the protests of 1968 are inevitable, given the similarities in the issues being raised and the tactics employed by demonstrators. In both cases, students have utilized marches, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action to amplify their voices and challenge the status quo.

The iconic images of students occupying university buildings and facing off against law enforcement resonate across generations, serving as a testament to the enduring spirit of resistance on college campuses.

However, there are also notable differences between the protests of then and now. While the 1968 demonstrations were part of a larger wave of social upheaval that swept across the country, today’s protests exist within a distinctly different socio-political landscape.

The rise of social media and digital activism has transformed the way protests are organized and disseminated, allowing for greater reach and visibility but also posing new challenges in terms of sustainability and impact.

Freshman UCLA psychology student Kelly Sims believes that most protests come from a common origin and believes that most people don’t realize how deep some of these topics go when searching through the rabbit hole.

“So many students don’t realize that this situation has been happening for years and they follow common principles that date all the way back to the 1950s to 1960s,” Sims said. “The history is there yet I feel society doesn’t learn from itself even if it comes to viewing similar protests that happened way back in the day.”

Despite these differences, the echoes of 1968 are unmistakable in the current wave of campus protests. Both then and now, students are standing up against injustice, demanding accountability from those in power, and advocating for a more equitable society.

Despite being shut down by law enforcement, which cleared protesters and dismantled encampment camps that engulfed the university campus, the demonstrations at UCLA and other campuses serve as a powerful reminder of the enduring legacy of student activism and its capacity to drive meaningful change.

Top Photo caption:

A young “hippie” standing in front of a row of National Guard soldiers, across the street from the Hilton Hotel at Grant Park, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, August 26, 1968

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