The history behind the International students’ day
Its origins come from the Nazi storming of the University of Prague in 1939, where the Germans shot nine student leaders, and sent over 1200 students to concentration camps. This occurred, after students demonstrated against the killing of Jan Opletal, and the Nazi occupation. The Nazis later closed all Czech universities and colleges. Two years later International Students’ day had its first celebration.
The fight for the right values
In November 1973 some students at Athens Polytechnic went on strike. They locked themselves in a laboratory and started broadcasting against the junta that was at power. The gate was on November 17th crashed by a tank, and students were injured in the events that followed, but luckily no one was killed.
Another event that has been remembered was the Velvet Revolution in Prague. In 1989 they organized a mass demonstration to commemorate the International Students Day. The communist party did not approve, and the commemoration quickly became violent, many of the 15000 students were beaten by the riot police, and other members of law enforcement. Later that night the students and actors from the theatres agreed to go on strike. This began a series of events, that led to the downfall of the communist party in Czechoslovakia. Today Czech Republic and Slovakia both celebrate a public holiday on 17th, as the “Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day”.
We in the Norwegian student movement began to celebrate this holiday in 2013 as part of the national strategy against tuition fees #stoppskolepenger. We used the holiday to highlight the value of having international students in Norway and the value of internationalization in higher education.
Keep fighting for the right values
Students have been in the front when it comes to fighting for change. Change that society can benefit from, that is derived from faith in the right values in this world. Students have been fighting, and will keep on fighting where ever it is needed. May it be in Zimbabwe where corruption is rampant, or other countries where students are denied rights due to their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other ways of being discriminated. Stand up for students where it may be needed, even here in the world’s best country, Norway.
I wish you a happy International students’ day, and I hope it sparks the will to fight for change. And that you use this spark to keep fighting for the right values, not only for yourself, but for your fellow brothers and sisters.
Head of international affairs
Executive committee of the Student democracy of South-east Norway