Student-led boycotts have broken out all over the globe this week — for dramatically different reasons.
In Hong Kong, thousands of students from several universities blew off classes Monday to protest an attempt by the Chinese central government to appoint a committee full of ruling party flunkies who will choose who can run to become the leader of the semi-autonomous region.
Meanwhile, in South Jordan, Utah, Bingham High School senior Cierra Gregersen led a heroic walkout to protest a homecoming dance dress code that requires dress pants for boys and dresses that rise to the level of girls’ armpits.
In Hong Kong, a former British colony with a population of about 7.2 million, the striking students who crowded rallies on Monday worried that Beijing leaders will soon severely diminish their voting rights.
“University students must shoulder the responsibility of these times,” student protest leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung told a throng of students gathered at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, according to The New York Times.
“Boycotting classes is just the first wave of resistance,” Law added. “Today is not the last step for us all. It’s the first step, and countless resistance campaigns will bear fruit.”
In South Jordan, a Salt Lake City suburb of about 60,000, Gregersen called the dress code for Saturday night’s dance “ridiculous,” The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Gregersen also groused that the principal, Chris Richards-Khong, is enforcing it more strictly than in the past.
School officials were able to work with many students who initially showed up at the dance in clothes that failed to meet the dress code. School officials assisted those students in fixing their outfits, and the students were allowed inside. However, administrators turned five female students, including Gregersen, away, apparently because they were in no mood for a fashion compromise.
“We’ve had the same standards assembly, same Powerpoint [presentation] for the past three years that I’ve been here,” the senior somberly complained, according to the Tribune. “But it’s never been enforced like this before.”
On Monday afternoon, about 80 Bingham High bravely left school in a symbolic show of truancy to protest enforcement of the existing dress code.
Richards-Khong, the principal, told the Tribune that school officials will consider the courageous display of unity over the homecoming dance dress code an unexcused absence for every participating student.
In Hong Kong, student protesters plan to shun their classes for a week. They want an election ballot which is not predetermined by communist party partisans and which gives every candidate an equal chance to run for office. They say they are prepared to fight for years.
Xi Jinping, the president of China (and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission) has indicated that he “will not change” plans to limit Hong Kong’s democracy, notes the Times.