After the climate march, I wrote an article about how heartening it was to see students come out in droves. Although I didn’t believe it would affect government policy, I thought it might affect consumer habits, and thus corporate policies.
This march, however, was a huge disappointment by comparison. Once again, I wasn’t planning on marching to the legislature, but I can’t resist a protest. This time, there was a much smaller turnout, and the energy was severely lacking. I find this interesting, considering the UCP budget affects students more immediately than the effects of climate change. It could possibly be because this is a chaotic point in the semester, but I believe it’s largely because this march wasn’t as trendy as the climate strike.
There are many alternative reasons as to why the UCP budget protest didn’t have the same energy as the climate strike. One such reason would be that this march was organized by the Students’ Union, which may also have affected the turnout, as it wasn’t necessarily organized by the students themselves.
Additionally, there was the issue of SU executives meeting with the Minister of Advanced Education right before the rally. This raises the question of whose side the Students’ Union is really on.
But despite these other factors, I still believe that the UCP budget just isn’t as exciting of an issue as climate change, and that this was reflected by the lack of support. We can see this in so many other areas as well. The corporatization of universities, “tough on crime” policies which disproportionately affect minorities, the use of what can be considered slave labour in the making of goods — these are just a few examples of important issues that don’t often get noticed.
There is so much wrong with our society, and as the people, we (supposedly) have the power to make changes since we (supposedly) live in a democracy. I understand the belief that protesting won’t make a difference. But if that’s the case, why did so many people show up for the climate march?
The climate march didn’t make much of a difference in terms of government policies, but it did show our solidarity, and made people aware that there are actions which can be taken. Protesting in and of itself often isn’t effective, but it can be the first step in order to rally support for change. Protesting the budget won’t change anything policy-wise, but it will demonstrate our massive discontent. It even has the potential to lay the groundwork for the necessary next steps, like staging a mass strike in sectors facing the biggest budget cuts. But in order for that to happen, the cause needs support, and the same goes for other pertinent issues.
Yes, this protest wasn’t popular because it doesn’t have to do with the environment, but it is extremely important to make your voice heard, and to lay the groundwork for stronger and more effective social movements. If we want real change, we must be ready to do the work, even when it isn’t particularly thrilling.