Political and Cultural Divide Fires Up Activist Movements

by Peter Niverth ‘18

With the country appearing to be split on basically every topic and division lines widening, more and more people continue to take to the streets in order to make sure that their voices are heard. And as President Donald Trump’s first year in the office enters its final three months, there is still plenty of topics and issues that have divided the American people.

Since his inauguration, Trump’s controversial policies have sparked a resurgence in activism throughout the United States.

Regardless of whether they support the president’s actions or not, people are responding to them with increased interest in influencing the decision process. New protests exercise this interest by finding causes that they identify with and actively supporting it.

For instance, during the Women’s March on Washington back in January of 2017, Dana Fischer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, surveyed more than 500 protesters there, recording that more than a third of them had never protested before prior to the march.

This rise in public activism is not isolated in Washington either. All across the country, college students have begun to take an interest in the policies that tend to impact them more personally.

A study from University of California, that was published in 2016, has concluded that one in ten college students expect to be involved in some kind of protest by the end of their college careers.

Several colleges have created various student-led activist groups, and all of them are concerned with a wide-range of topics. For example, students enrolled at The University of New Mexico created the KIVA club. The KIVA club advocates for student and community involvement in issues pertaining to Native Americans.

As Trump continues his term as acting president over the next four years, it can most likely be expected that more people will continue to voice their concerns, opinions, and feelings about many controversial subjects. It can also be expected that the responses will be coming from both the left and right.