MAYDAY! Peace Conference

Voices of Change: Our Generation of Student Activism
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

There seems to be a definite rise in student activism. Whether it is in response to gun violence, climate change, or immigration, students are increasingly rising up, organizing and mobilizing, going on school strikes to make their voices heard.

2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the May 4 shooting at Kent State. It was an era of a cultural divide and protest movements. One of the consequences of May 4 (and the Jackson State University shooting 11 days later) was lowering the voting age to 18 - first in an amendment to the Voting Rights Act, and soon thereafter enshrined in the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.

The 2021 MAYDAY! theme explored the topic of student activism. How do movements cause change and influence policy? Is it more effective to work within the system or push against it? How do you make a movement sustainable?

Time Event
10 -11:30 a.m.
Morning Session

Engage in the Change: Mobilizing a Generation to Protest
Presentation by Jaclyn Corin
A virtual event.

Watch the archive 

 Jaclyn Corin speakingAfter the largest school shooting in American history, Parkland survivor Jaclyn Corin has become a leading activist for ending gun violence. As the co-founder and leading organizer of March For Our Lives, Jaclyn has rallied students around the world to advocate for social justice.

On February 14, 2018, Jaclyn Corin’s life changed forever after a massive school shooting took the lives of 17 students and faculty at her school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Less than a week after the shooting, she mobilized 100 of her classmates and brought them on a 900-mile lobbying trip to their state capital.

Soon after, she continued her advocacy and became a leading organizer of the March for Our Lives. At the March, she brought Yolanda Renee King to the stage, granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., where she preached that the young people of today are a part of a “great generation.” Corin helped unite more than 2 million people in 900 marches around the world during the 2018 rallies. The 800,000 people at the Washington D.C. march made it one of the largest demonstrations in the Nation’s history.

Corin is in constant contact with student leaders from around the country, organizing local events and voter registration pushes, and promoting the need for more March For Our Lives chapters. She is the “driving force behind the scenes” of March for Our Lives. Jaclyn Corin promises to devote her life to fighting against gun violence and will forever be an advocate for all types of social justice.

Noon - 1:15 p.m.

Lunchtime Session

Kent, Parkland, and the History of Social-Justice Student Activism in the United States
Presentation by Dr. Greg Kaster, Professor of History
Sponsored by the Friends of the Library-Gustavus Library Associates
A virtual event.

Watch the archive.

Greg KasterProfessor of History Greg Kaster, who was the 2018 recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award, the Gustavus faculty’s highest accolade for teaching excellence. 

Kaster has been a member of the Gustavus faculty since 1986, where he teaches courses in American history with a particular emphasis on the Civil War, slavery and abolitionism, masculinity, and dissent. A native of the Chicago area, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University and earned his doctorate from Boston University.

A passionate advocate for the power of the liberal arts, he encourages students to learn for the sake of learning. “For all the talk about how studying the humanities prepares one well for success in the workplace—which, by the way, is certainly true as evidenced by the fulfilling lives and careers of countless Gustavus humanities graduates over the years—the most important reason for studying them is their capacity to humanize us. That, and enriching both one’s interior life and engagement with life itself,” the professor explained.

For more information, contact the Office of Marketing and Communication at Gustavus (call 507-933-7520 or e-mail

The annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference was established at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1981 with funding by the late Florence and Raymond Sponberg. It was established to inspire attendees to work for justice and peace throughout the world. 

Class Schedule Modification

The class schedule will be modified to allow for all students and faculty to attend the morning session. Classes that start at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. will meet at the regularly scheduled times. Classes that start at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on that day will be shortened to thirty minutes each with ten minutes between classes. Normal scheduling will resume at 1:30 p.m. 

Class Schedule
Normal Start Time Adjusted Start Time
10:30-11:20 a.m. 11:30 a.m. -12 p.m.
11:30 a.m -12:20 p.m. 12:10-12:40 p.m.
12:30-1:20 p.m. 12:50-1:20 p.m.