Protests meant to publicize

By Jennifer Smith

Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: “Student protests no longer effective,” Dec. 4, 2003,

Protests aren’t meant to influence decision makers, they’re meant to influence the public. We need to get public pressure on our side. We can hand out informative graphs and statistics as much as we like, but if no one is paying attention it won’t do much good. Activism gets attention. We need that first.

A conciliatory and cooperative approach has done little to involve students, attract media attention or gain public pressure for our cause. Backroom lobbying is only effective for minor changes and significant problems with Bill 43 remain, including the decreased regulations on tuition. It takes significant public pressure for lobbying to have any major success.

Administration cooperates with the government. Administration can’t go out into the streets and protest. But we can, and we should.

A single stunt may only result in a picture in the Calgary Herald, yet it gets students more active, connected and willing to speak out. We need a sustainable external media campaign in which protests are frequent, consistently putting post-secondary education issues in the public eye. It is a process, not a single event. Over time students are capable of achieving social change.

Students need to feel the current situation is so unacceptable that no one else should have to go through it again. We need to convince everyone there is a viable alternative to the current state of affairs. Otherwise, it is hard for anyone to muster the motivation required to protest the lack of funding.

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