Protesting, Lobbying – Is it worth it?

December 3, 2008

Yesterday I wrote of the student protest that took place on our campus against higher education fees, and the buzz that that generated.

Today, I still owe this University more money than I have, to have the pleasure of studying here. I’m in the Library at the minute and I’m surrounded by stressed first years with essay deadlines, international students embracing Skype and Youtube-induced cackles of laughter.

So nothing’s changed? Right? Minimal local press coverage. No statement of defiance from the University of Authorities. No word from Reg Empey, backing down from his proposal to increase fees by £80. Hardly the follow up to the radicalisation of discontent I talked of yesterday.

So what was the point? I mean, is it worth it at all to stage a protest? To write a letter to a local authority, an MP, a newspaper? Is anyone listening?

Let me tell you about some of my stories. Hardly shake-the-earth’s-foundations successes but worth telling you about nonetheless

As talk of a new Anthem for the Northern Ireland team whipped the media and the fans into a frenzy a few months ago, I wrote to one of the officials at the Irish Football Association. I got a meeting, and a chance to air my views. I also got an email response from the Chair of the Alliance Party

An email to the same Party’s Culture spokesperson on the ongoing issue of a National Stadium received a response attempting to justify his comments

A petition we ran to make our campus ‘Fairtrade’ received over 500 signatories, led to it becoming one of the main issues for Student Elections, and the New Site VP has been following this up with meetings with the Vice Chancellor to attempt to implement this policy

And there are loads of bigger stories, where a letter writing campaign, or a take to the streets has caused those in charge to change their ways. Politicians know they get elected by the people, so it is in their best interests to pander to their fancies.

If you are passionate about change, seek it. If you can’t do it, lobby someone who can