Two Sides, One Issue: Students should inspire real change, not protests


Students should forgo protests to inspire real change with their legislatures.

Chloe Morse, Staff Writer

Following a flurry of federal legal activity, students across the U.S. and, closer to home at SPA have taken action and protested these changes. There have been protests and marches all over the country, but even in instances such as the Women’s March on Washington that had over 2 million people, no concrete change was made in the status of women. Rather than following this pattern and not making their voices heard, students wanting to make a difference should focus on engaging with their local politicians to instigate change through policies.

On a local level, students can inspire policy change in many ways. They can take an active role and contact their local legislatures via letter, email, phone, and more. However, the most effective way to contact them is simply by setting up a meeting. This has a more influential effect because talking to legislatures engages them and obliges them to respond. Contact information for legislators is easily accessible here.

However, an even more potent way to make an impact is to organize a group of students from the same district to set up a one on one meeting with their state legislatures. A larger group not only represents more support for the issue at hand, but can have a stronger effect because there are more people to take on more tasks. Politicians are usually eager to meet with students, which provides an element of interest in the cause. Finally, student-led activist groups are easy to form in a school setting where there are hundreds of students to potentially rally to a cause.

Protests, while attractive in their energy and momentum, are unable to make the lasting changes that student protesters want.

While the method of direct interaction with local politicians is simply more effective, it also solves some of the difficulties with protests. One problem with protests is that protests simply aren’t accessible to everyone. People with physical disabilities are potentially barred from participating in certain aspects of the protest, such as marching. By contacting legislatures, people who can’t physically protest can show support in ways they otherwise couldn’t. Another issue is that protests often don’t have a larger organization to pursue and implement the small details of policy change. The Women’s March on Washington was one such protest; it formed as a grassroots movement and didn’t have the organization to instigate actual political change. By making change through policy action, both of these problems are fixed.

Finally, the chance to inspire change through policy action is considerable and an opportunity that is open to everyone, regardless of voting status or gender. Taking the extra step by instigating policy change is a chance to truly make a difference, one with a lasting and significant impact.

Protests, while attractive in their energy and momentum, are unable to make the lasting changes that student protesters want. It is critical that, as more discussion takes place surrounding issues, students wanting to affect these issues do so in the form of concrete change. Without this element of resistance, students miss out on the most important part of inspiring change: making the changes themselves.