A Comparison of the University Reform
Movements in Argentina and Colombia
KENNETH N. WALKER
Student politics in Latin America is looked upon by many observers as something endemic to Latin American culture, personality, institutions, or all three. While it is probably true that much of the general character and frequency of student collective action can be accounted for by specific characteristics of Latin America, including relatively unstable or despotic governments in many of these societies, we now know that student political rebellion in the Western hemisphere is not restricted to the lands south of the United States, especially after the Berkeley revolt. But the political role of students is, by and large, of more political significance in Latin than in North America, given the direct opposition by student movements to national governments on frequent occasions.
There are a number of characteristics which differentiate Latin American from North American universities and colleges, which may account for the disparity in the frequency and intensity of student politics between the two continents. Salient among these characteristics are the lack of a full-time faculty and the presence of student participation in university government in most Latin American universities. The University Reform movement has often been pointed to as a significant force in bringing about student participation in university government, and as a factor in maintaining student political involvement at a high level. There are relatively few studies in Spanish dealing with the origins, development, and consequences of the University Reform movement, and almost none in English. It is generally known, however, that the movement began in Argentina and spread to other Latin American nations, with varying consequences for student pol