North American college students have many advantages and disadvantages that shape their capacity for creating alliances with other social movements outside the boundaries of the campus.
The advantages that North American college students have when creating alliances between social movements fall into three categories: general, academic, and logistics. Generally, students come to college with a goal of discovering their place in the world. “People join the movement not only to take action but to feel alive and find out who they are.” (Boyd, 156) Because of this, students are more apt to be open minded and willing to participate in a social movement because it will teach them about themselves. Many college campuses strive to create a diverse environment, be it religious, ethnic, or political differences. These differences enrich the possibility for social movements and provide stimulating dialogue in which people soon become personally invested.
The mere fact that one is a North American college student is an advantage because they are receiving a college education in one of the most powerful countries in the world. College students live in an intelligent community which strives for higher knowledge. Academically, students learn about injustices and ways of helping fix them. This knowledge, for some, mandates action. The most compelling courses contain material that is applicable to daily life. College students often learn about a topic in class and continue their education of the topic outside of class. Students become impassioned by class material, which adds to their commitments to social movements. College campuses are rich in resources. They provide libraries, professors who have studied topic intensely, and alumni for connections in the outside world. Using these sources and taking advantage of a college education transforms a student into “an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public,” also known as, an intellectual. (Said, 11) Intellectuals a world minority which makes many intellectuals believe they have no choice but to act on their knowledge.
Many college campuses are set up to encourage social action, such as having a common building that houses all organizations. This allows students to connect easily and centrally. Colleges house many different organizations working toward the same goal of improving the world, which has the potential of creating strong alliances between the social movements. College students also have the unique opportunity to participate in mass social movements because they are old enough to be considered adults, educated enough to vocalize their opinions in the form of a social movement, but are not yet tied down. Students don’t have to worry as much about the “normal constraints against openly protesting or resisting, such as the fear of losing work, tenancy, and...