Colby Magazine Spring 2002


Asking Why
Campus activists question factors that lead to need

Serving meals at the local soup kitchen is just one part of the activist equation, says Jonathan White, visiting professor of sociology. The other is determining why people end up at a soup kitchen at all—and then doing something about it.

White is one of the catalysts of a renewed political activism at Colby, a movement that he jump-started by bringing separate groups of activists together when he arrived on Mayflower Hill almost two years ago.

Students have brought a growing roster of speakers, liberal and conservative, joined an e-mail list serve, established an activist newspaper, The Difference, and created a Web site that chronicles the history of activism at Colby (www.colby.edu/education/activism/). Several students have gone to work for a United Nations-chartered organization that educates children about the realities of war.

"I think community service is one form of activism," White said. "And it's the most comfortable. It's the most generally accepted and the most generally promoted, particularly by religious institutions. Somebody's hungry, you feed them. Help them out. But don't question why they were hungry. Don't question the systems that allow that.

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