Age is Just a Number: Student Journalism Over the Years

The year is 1950. World War Two ended half a decade ago. NATO has just been created. An insurgency in Korea is gaining ground. Harry Truman is President of the US, Robert Menzies is the PM of Australia. Amongst a backdrop of recovery in Europe and the culmination of tensions between the Stalinist Soviet Union and capitalist America, Woroni was born.

I claim to know next to nothing about the decisions that caused this newspaper to exist. Student journalism as a whole, however, and the power of the student bodies they represent, has consistently changed the shape of the world over time.

Student protests have had a history well before the conception of this magazine. A quick look back shows one example as early as 1519, from Joseon Dynasty Korea, when students petitioned the then King and took up arms in an attempt to save a beleaguered War Minister, who subsequently swallowed cyanide in jail. Student activism could only go up from then.

And it did: in the late 19th century, student protests around St Petersburg forced the Tsardom of Russia to act on the famine plaguing the nation. These same students were just five years previously set back by the University Statute of Alexander III’s reactionary administration. The resilience inherent to the student tradition of fighting the good fight draws deeply from a wealth of history.

As 1950 came and went, student publications became synonymous with the causes of liberal progression in the Western world, and yet  all across the globe student’s voices were heard. More obvious examples litter the Cold War years, the most notable including the University of Wisconsin’s Dow Riots of 1968, which protested the use of chemical warfare by the American government. In Prague, Jan Palach, a student, self-immolated in response to his government’s inability to stop the Soviet invasion in the Prague Spring just a year earlier (he now has a memorial plaque outside the Czech Republic’s largest museum). Iran heard fears of an American conspiracy as the result a resounding call from local students, who in 1979 initiated the Iran hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 hostage. Tiananmen Square in 1989 saw the Communist red of the symbolic heart of post-revolutionary China darken with the blood of students.

As Woroni turns 65, its significance is not in the number, but rather the continued promotion of the tradition of ideas and beliefs being published and critiqued. This above all stands strong as the foundation for ensuring youth all around the world can have their say and affect change. Students have a voice, and student publications like Woroni foster this. May there be 65 years more.