It starts with chalk. Possibly because it reminds the user of the safety and comfort afforded by kindergarten where any mess you scribbled on the ground managed to bring a smile to your teacher’s face.
You can also see it in fliers too, most likely for the same reason. Bright pretty colors plastered around campus bearing messages about sit-ins, teach-ins, workshops and dialogues for anyone interested in raising awareness or heightening consciousness.
It all hails a new year filled with a new bunch of hacktivists, trying to change the world one colored calcium carbonate letter at a time. Too bad none of it is very effective, and only leaves our campus looking and feeling like a bastardized version of UC Berkeley.
Colleges, widely labeled as hotbeds for political and social thought, provide the opportunity for many to join protest marches or engage in roundtable discussions about various issues plaguing the campus community and the nation as a whole. Any time during the week, you can find an event to suit your angry inner protester, and the majority of them deserve the attention they get.
The problem comes in when the people trying to effect any change employ impotent preschooler tactics, amounting up to nothing more than a general feeling of “I’m okay, you’re okay; We’re all just peachy,” with out actually having any impact. What’s worse, groups and organizations place the blame on the rest of the community when no one pays attention or there is low turnout at an event.
We tried, kids; good work, too bad everyone is just so darn apathetic.
You can’t force someone to read what you’ve written, to listen to what you have to say with interest or give some thought to your cause. People have the right to ignore you out of existence. The burden of grabbing someone’s attention over some social or political injustice falls squarely on the shoulders of the organization and nowhere else. If no one shows up or no one listens, maybe you should ask yourself what you’re doing wrong before you start throwing around easy excuses.
The average student has a lot to worry about without giving thought to global warming, discrimination or sexual assault. It’s a shame that more people don’t devote more time to thinking about these things and why they exist, but the more tangible pressures of homework, midterms and personal lives tend to block everything out. Beating students over the head with “shocking” statistics and catchy slogans doesn’t do a whole lot of good.
Many student organizations feel that if they’re not spreading the good word far enough and fast enough, then they need more money. Some projects do require a significant amount of money. Counselors need to be paid and OfficeMax doesn’t give out supplies for free, but it isn’t fair for students or the university to pile money into ineffective groups out protesting for protest’s sake.
The greatest thing you can do for your cause is attach a name and a face. Never underestimate the power of the individual. It doesn’t require an angry mob or crazed chalk drawings, just the strength for a single person to stand up and tell his or her story. It’s especially difficult for things like sexual violence, discrimination or personal loss, and not everyone is up to it. But if you truly care, a good story will carry more weight than a thousand picketers.
Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus Opinion editor.