A brief history of student protest: From 'no women at Cambridge' in 1897 to 'cops off campus' in 2013

Student activists today are standing on the shoulders of giants

With student protests making headlines regularly, and with no signs of student politics calming down in the future, it's time to cast your eyes back and learn from the rich history of protests of the past.

No women at Cambridge, 1897

In a move that would shock today’s student feminists, male students at Cambridge held a protest against a resolution that would allow women to receive full degrees from the university. They suspended an effigy of a woman riding a bicycle - the stereotypical female Cambridge student - from a window while waving banners with slogans such as "No Gowns for Girtonites", Girton being an all-women college. On hearing that the resolution had fallen, students then maimed and decapitated the effigy before pushing it through the gates of all-women college Newnham. Women were not granted full degrees until 1921.

"May Fourth" protests, 1919

The "May Fourth" protests in China were led by students displeased with their country’s response to the post-World War One Treaty of Versailles. Over 3,000 students marched from Peking University to protest against the granting of Shandong territory to the Japanese. Many were arrested and beaten, and eventually China refused to sign the Treaty. The "May Fourth" protests have often been seen as one of the birthplaces of Chinese Communism.

Vietnam protests, 1966-9

Arguably the most famous student protests of all time - those against the Vietnam war - took place in countless American and European cities. In London, the biggest protest was on the 3 July 1966. 4,000 people protested outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, including over 2,000 students from the Youth For Peace In Vietnam movement. In America, students publicly burnt their call-up papers following the introduction of a draft-lottery. President Nixon eventually cited the protests as part of the reason why American troops withdrew in 1973.

A police officer escorts a protestor to a squad car surrounded by dozens of anti-Vietnam War demonstrators outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention (Getty)

May protests in Paris, 1968

What began as just 150 students occupying a university building in Paris ended in a million people marching through the streets. Students had peacefully occupied an administration building at Nanterre, but when the university was closed and the students were threatened with expulsion, over 20,000 students and lecturers marched in protest to the Sorbonne, where they were broken up by use of tear gas. When students realised that promises to re-open the university would not be kept, they marched again, joined by workers' unions, on Monday 13 May. A million students and workers walked, and the university was reopened. However, the revolutionary fervour caught on, and in the next few weeks countless strikes, clashes and protests almost forced the resignation of President Charles de Gaulle.

Students and trade unionists gather in Paris in 1968 (Getty)

The "Garden House Riot", 1970

The local tourist board organised a ‘Greek Week’ at various Cambridge establishments, and students raised concerns given the ongoing dispute against the right-wing military regime in Greece. On the 13 February, they blocked diners from entering the Greek night at the Garden House Hotel, and the ensuing stand-off with the police ended with one officer being severely injured. Six students were imprisoned following the riots and two were recommended for deportation. The then president of the NUS, Jack Straw, condemned the punishments and a young reporter by the name of Jeremy Paxman reported the events in student newspaper Varsity.

"Nelson's Picket", 1986

Student group "Anti-Apartheid" ran a four-year picket in Trafalgar Square in support of the then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Tourist buses would point out "Nelson’s picket" alongside "Nelson’s Column". Their reward came in 1990, when 15,000 people stormed Trafalgar Square on hearing the news of Mandela’s release.

Student protests against Fee Rises and EMA cuts, 2010-

Nationwide protests occurred after the announcement by the government of plans to raise student fees up to £9,000. 52,000 students gathered in London on 10 November, and there was a national outcry following revelations that peacefully protesting students had been kettled by the police. In one incident Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s car was targeted by the protesters. Despite the protests, the bill went through and today around 75 per cent of English universities charge £9,000 a year.

Student protesters stand opposite the Department for Business in December, 2010 in London (Getty)

The "Chilean Winter", 2011-13

The ongoing conflict between students and government in Chile has become known as the "Chilean Winter". Led by the charismatic Camila Vallejo, what started as a students demanded more state support for higher education and a better standardised university admissions test became a mass uprising against an entrenched establishment. Government proposals to placate the students have largely failed so far, and though the protests have calmed, negotiations are ongoing. Around 1,800 students have been arrested throughout the protests.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Sociology Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: - KS5 Sociology Teacher -...

Primary NQT's - jobs for September

£90 - £110 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Calling all Primary NQT's who c...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: DescriptionHow would you like to ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone