The new wave of student activism at colleges and universities is here to stay and likely to intensify due to changing campus demographics and increasingly high expectations from students. There can be significant consequences to mismanaging the institutional response to activism including enrollment declines, bad PR, and potential lawsuits.
While student affairs divisions and campus safety offices typically take the lead in responding to campus protests as they arise, progressive institutions recognize that successfully addressing student concerns and minimizing these consequences requires proactive planning and leadership from administrators across the institution.
Even institutions that considered themselves quiet campuses have been recently surprised by outbursts of activism, which highlighted the costs of not being prepared to respond. It only takes one viral social media posting, incident, or cause that activates students to dramatically change the campus environment.
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