Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Clayton Koppes


Student organization, Education, College, Politics


"Student activism" is a commonly used-and somewhat loaded-phrase. In the mind of the modern observer, the phrase inspires images of peace signs, love beads, sit-ins, and Kent State. Student activism, however, has not always been true to this imagery. The tradition of student groups devoted to political, ideological ends extends back to the early years of the twentieth century. The group that established this tradition also forms the subject of this study: the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS).

The ISS was founded in 1905. It led no rallies or sit-ins; nor were any of its members martyred at the hands of the national guard. Its tactics were peaceful- in fact, they can hardly be called "tactics." Far from occupying college presidents' offices, the ISS sponsored lectures, organized study groups, and published reading lists. However, the group must not be dismissed as trivial simply because it does not tap the romantic aura of "The Sixties." The ISS began a twentieth-century practice of student awareness of and concern for the political world outside the walls of the "ivory tower" that is still very much alive- the rhetoric of cynics and disappointed radicals notwithstanding.

Included in

History Commons