Last Wednesday, March 20th, a lot of post-secondary students in Ontario walked out of class at noon to protest Doug Ford’s recent changes to OSAP and against the Student Choice Initiative which I spoke about last week. Well intentioned, I’m sure, and it garnered some headlines, but given the recent walk out of high school students, not just in Ontario, but around the globe for climate change I don’t think a single afternoon’s walk-out is going to be something that stirs the public to talk to their MPs.
And while I’m sure it feels good for student activists and leaders to be planning these things. “Hey, we’re doing something!” I wonder if it’s really a good idea in the long run. Having short, small action protests over multiple issues simply inoculates the public to when real problems are occurring. Student leaders need to put more thought into their protest actions, and, in particular, keep in mind the idea of “choose your battles”.
Not that I’m saying this particular issue wasn’t a battle worth choosing, it absolutely is, in my mind, but for the protest to simply be a day off from class, as most of the public will likely see it, hardly gains sympathy. But what can students do that’s more effective, eschewing violence, of course. Here’s a thought: talk to mom and dad. Talk to grandma and grandpa. If students want to shock the public into believing an issue’s really important, they should bring it up to their parents. Yes, it seems silly, after all, post-secondary students are adults, they shouldn’t have to go to their parents for problems with school right? But that’s exactly why doing it will make such a difference.
How many post-secondary students bother to bring up political issues with their parents? How many even talk to their parents on a regular basis about anything significant. So suddenly having their child come to them and ask for a serious talk and some help with a political issue will leave an impression, far more of an impression than they’d get from just reading an article about a student protest the next day. The latter may make them tut-tut and shake their head. The other makes it personal. And take it up the chain, take it to the grandparents. They’re more likely to vote anyway. More likely to get in touch with their MP or go to a rally and remember this time when the grandkid came up and wanted to just talk with them seriously. Students need to remember we’re not Doug Ford’s constituents. He doesn’t care about us because he doesn’t have to, we don’t vote in enough numbers to make a difference. But seniors? Get grandma and grandpa talking about this with their friends and church or social groups, and suddenly you’ve got politicians attention. We have those connections, let’s stop protesting and start taking actions that will really make waves. Get our parents on board.
Now, I’d be remiss without pointing out that this week’s issue is one of our better ones. From our feature interview with AU student Kris Hine, to Wanda’s exploration of the darker feelings, and Angela’s return with the latest Struggling Student Rants. Even our usual selection of advice, news, events, and more reads to me a little better than it does many weeks. I think the warmer weather has inspired our writers some. So please, enjoy the read!