Student Resistance at Emory, 2012-2013

In September, 2012, Emory College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robin Forman made the surprise announcement of the largest and most far reaching curricular cuts in the history of the university, and the largest such cuts in the recent history of the so-called top-twenty national universities.  The complete elimination of Visual Arts, Journalism and Educational Studies, and the elimination of graduate programs in Economics, Spanish and Portuguese, Russian, and the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts resulted from what was later revealed to be a deliberately secretive process that violated multiple university and College bylaws.

From my position as a tenured faculty member in a to-be-closed department (Visual Arts), the silver lining in the crisis that has gripped the campus since the September 2012 announcement has been students' passionate engagement with these events.  Led by a courageous coalition of graduate and undergraduate students known as the Student Revisioning Committee, students wrote numerous letters and editorials, gathered signatures and circulated petitions, held peaceful protests and sit-ins, spread information through multiple social media channels, and organized an academic conference on the emerging American university from a critical student perspective.  They succeeded in keeping the issue of unjust administration before the attention of the university community, as well as regional, national and international media.  The firestorm of protest that arose from a related event, Emory President James Wagner's controversial praise of the Three-Fifths Compromise in February 2013––originally a response to the crisis over the curricular cuts––also owed significantly to student activism. 

The photographs here show something of student-led democracy in action at Emory during the 2012-2013 academic year.