05/22/2015 01:45 pm ET Updated May 22, 2015

The Belief That You Can Change The World Hasn't Been 'Beaten Out' Of Student Activists Yet

Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Maybe the campus protests seemed rather isolated at first. Dissatisfaction with the administration. Outrage over bad decisions. A student altercation gone bad.

For example: The protest at Florida State University last fall, when students didn’t like the idea of having the Republican state politician John Thrasher as their school’s president and launched a campaign—#SlashThrasher—against his candidacy. Citing the lawmaker’s corporate ties, various groups staged demonstrations, including some who organized a march to the city center.

Or the protest at the University of Michigan in September, when, amid frustrations over their football team’s losses, students rallied at the home of the school’s president to demand that he fire the athletic director. They had more on their minds than lost points: The director had neglected to remove the team’s quarterback from a football game after he suffered a serious head injury that was later diagnosed as a concussion. (The Florida students’ protest failed to change minds at FSU, but Michigan’s athletic director was quickly sent packing.)