Thousands of high school, college, and university students nationwide walked out of classrooms March 5 and, in many cases, marched through their campuses in protest of a possible U.S. war with Iraq.
The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, made up of 15 student groups formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, sponsored the protests. Organizers estimate that students at about 400 high schools and higher education institutions took part in the anti-war action, dubbed “Books Not Bombs.” The United States has about 23,000 public high schools and approximately 4,200 higher education institutions.
High school administrators across the country found students leaving class discussions and tests to take part in the events, according to news reports, the latest examples of a spate of student activism surrounding the war issue. (“Prospect of U.S. War Against Iraq Stirs Student Activism,” Feb. 12, 2003.)
In Hyattsville, Md., for example, Northwestern High School Principal William Ritter allowed about 800 students to organize a sit-in in the school’s auditorium after they threatened to walk out of their classes. And students at Newton North High School in Newtonville, Mass., left their classes to march to City Hall.
Participation in the protests and rallies was helped, an organizer said, by the convenience factor. Melissa Chadburn, with the Young Communist League, one of the coalition members, noted that high school students are more apt to join smaller, decentralized events than the kind of anti-war protests that drew massive crowds in major cities worldwide last month.
“This was a movement where you did not have to go to D.C.,” Ms. Chadburn said.