Standing un-united

By Veronika Janik

Well, the results are in. The Progressive Conservatives continue as Alberta’s majority government for the tenth consecutive time. Ralphie reigns again, as part Premier, part shit disturber. Tuition remains high while funding remains low.

So, now it’s time to kick back, relax and tell ourselves that we put up one hell of a fight. We made a stand, showed the public that students stand united and care about the issues facing our post-secondary education. We made our point loud and clear.

Or did we? Did we really fight as hard as we think we did? Sadly my friends, the answer is one big, fat, blunt, NO!

To be fair, students put in a decent effort this year. The Students’ Union worked some magic with their swanky commercials, their Political Action Week campaign and their stylish “rich province, broke student” shirts. Their purpose was to unify the students in an attempt to show the public that as a collective group, we are informed and aware.

Though the SU put forth such a great effort, we didn’t try as hard as we should have.

Many students relentlessly bitched and moaned about Ralph’s leadership skills or lack thereof. Nonetheless, amidst all this bullshit and good for nothing droning, the number of whiners did not match up with the number of individuals wearing the SU’s shirts, or participating in the SU’s demonstrations.

A number of students did not purchase the shirt, not because it cost a whopping five dollars, but because it was too mainstream. Too many people were wearing the shirts and apparently what’s mainstream is totally and completely unappealing. Those who conform to what’s popular are non-individualistic sheep following the herd.

The reality is, this elitist, judgmental point of view entirely diminished our power as a student body with regards to this year’s election. While it is true that skepticism and individuality are extremely important in life, it is also true that like anything else, they are good in moderation and better in certain contexts than in others.

If we are so busy running away from the status quo and from what everyone else is doing in order to remain “unique,” how will we ever really unify?

God forbid that your individualistic pride be dropped for one second in order to put on a freakin’ shirt that contains a strong political message. It’s not as though we were being asked to sit through a three-hour recording of Hillary Duff Live here. Yes, everybody was wearing them and that was exactly the point. If for one week or even one day, people could box their fears about joining the majority, then maybe people would start to take us seriously. Maybe then we could unite as students. Then and only then will the public begin to see us as serious individuals who share a strong awareness of our situation. Because as great as sitting around with your collection of super-cool, anti-mainstream friends and bitching about Klein really is, it’s nowhere near as powerful as joining in on what everyone is else is doing-just for once-and taking a powerful political stance.

So, in a couple years, when you’re looking at your disgustingly racked-up university bill and sipping a Big Bear out of a paper bag to drown your sorrows, be proud that you didn’t succumb to the crowd and didn’t wear the shirt or follow the masses. Or give yourself one big, steel-toed boot in the ass because while you were too busy trying to be different, Ralphie was busy having his celebratory scotch at the local casino. Now are you satisfied Mr./Mrs. Independence?


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