Let’s celebrate with Professor Amy Kapit, Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies! She has won the support of the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund for her research into the suppression of university student activism and the development of a Student Rights Watch Report. This is important work that resonates strongly (especially with a long history of student activism at Swarthmore. Professor Lakey recently reminded us of his first arrest, with Swarthmore students, in the 1960s during civil rights actions in Chester.) If you see Prof. Kapit, offer her a high-five or elbow-bump! Congratulations!
The goal of this project is to help the granting organization, the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH), to develop a methodology for tracking and analyzing the suppression of university student activism, including through acts that violate student activists’ rights. The project will support SAIH’s advocacy and campaigning to raise awareness of the role that students play as defenders of human rights and to increase protections for them. Kapit will work with student research assistants to carry out data collection to develop an initial methodology, code book, and preliminary set of indicators that SAIH can use to produce an annual Student Rights Watch Report.
“This is a really important and really neglected area of work,” says Kapit. “Many people who become human rights defenders become involved in activism as students. If student activists aren’t protected and the space for student activism isn’t allowed to flourish, that’s likely to also suppress future activism. What I’ve found so far through the research is that there’s a big gap in attention to student activists. Groups that support protections for human rights defenders don’t specifically focus on students. And groups that focus on issues like academic freedom tend to be more focused on the work of academics, rather than on students. I’m also really excited to be working with students here at Swarthmore on this project. This project is about students, and I feel strongly that it needs to be shaped by student perspectives.”