In preparation for coming up with topics, I’d like us to do an exercise in expanding the field of people we care about/think about. In my experience with students, I often find that students focus on others who share particular attributes with themselves. In and of itself, that’s perfectly fine and even a good source for motivation: Asian students tend to focus on Asian student issues, LGBTQ+ students tend to focus on gender and LGBTQ+-oriented issues, richer students tend to focus on the plight of middle-to-upper-class students, etc. But part of advocacy (and politics in general) is taking into account people who aren’t like you, who you might not run into on a regular basis, and who might nonetheless be directly or indirectly affected by the policies and political issues you support.
As such, I want you all to cast a broader net. In groups (it’s possible this might be converted into an at-home assignment depending on time), I want you to look at trends in demographic issues related to education, especially as they relate to one another. Gender, college attendance and graduation, majors, ethnicity, sexual orientation, suicidal ideation or rate of depression diagnoses, number of and age of returning students, tuition costs, etc. Then, outline some of those statistical features and address what jumped out at you as important/surprising. This can be a full essay or some bullet pointed features with a conclusory paragraph, but there should be at least one full, well-thought out analysis here written in at least short essay format (let’s say at least 300 words in addition to whatever notes you jot down).