Have students lost their activism touch?

Politics versus pleasure — have students replaced activism with leisure? Photo: Mike Hodges

The recent “Ven’debt’a” protest failed to attract popular support from the majority of students at the University of Lincoln. It was well publicised, it concerned an issue that most students should be interested in, and it took place here in Lincoln.

A connected political debate failed to attract more than a handful of students. So why the lack of interest? Whatever happened to the student activists of yesteryear? Where have the screaming protesters gone, with their bellies full of fire and their mouths dripping revolutionary slogans?

Just like the dodo, they’re extinct.

Modern students are far more concerned with their own pleasures than the political and social issues of today. Witness the popularity of the recent Carnage event. Compare it to the pitiful turnout at a protest that was in their own best interests. The Facebook page for Lincoln Carnage managed to attract 2475 members. A clear measure of its popularity.

The message here is quite simple. Students are turned off by political activism and protest. They have become lotus gatherers for whom the gritty realities of the real world are unwelcome intruders into their lives.

In “1984”, George Orwell wrote about the “proles” and how they were manipulated through their enthusiasm for a lottery. Orwell wrote: “It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant.”

Substitute “students” for “proles” and substitute “sex, booze and fun” for “lottery” and you have modern student life.

Our political masters would be very happy to hear of this lack of concern exhibited by those, supposedly, making up the smartest component of our society. If we, the future professional and managerial class, cannot be asked to take an interest in the governance of our lives then what hope is there that the political classes will be held accountable for their actions? Are we ready to let politicians do what they want as long as it doesn’t disrupt our pleasure centred lifestyles?

One final note. The most surprising thing for me was not that so few students turned out to protest against the debts they are forced to incur, but that any of them turned up at all.

2 Responses to Have students lost their activism touch?

  1. O says:

    I think you have totally missed the nail here; students have not become self interested consumers, they are showing with their feet the disenfranchised thoughts about the University of Lincoln Students’ Union.

    The entire campaign was pointless as there was no possible outcome that would have changed the situation, the student body of a small university getting angry at a policy by central government can and will have no affect.

    The political ‘debate’ was poorly led, and again local MPs do not and can not dictate the policy of their parties so the SU’s rallying call of find out what they intend to do about the funding issues could not be answered due to the lack of firmly announced policies by the parties being represented.

  2. Marc says:

    Nineteen Eighty-Four yet again? Can’t we have references to some other dystopian novels? I can’t help but feel that Huxley’s Brave New World is relevant in this case.

    Apart from that, I know where the author is coming from. I might have turned up to the protest had it not been, as the previous poster noted, somewhat in vain. Oh, and I’d taken my ‘Soma’ the night before.

    Surely the problem is with society at large? For example, true dissenting voices are near-absent from the mass media. People like Chomsky normally only pop up when they’re being ridiculed. Why would people be hired for any big corporation if they were anti-corporate?

    I WAS at Angela Rippon’s talk on Monday. Nice dandy outfit, but unfortunately she was under the delusion that we have an indepedent media; that journalists aren’t told what to do by their proprietors. The fact is, they don’t need to be. If they believed the wrong things they simply wouldn’t be in the positions that they are.

    See, there are some foolish Spartists left among us.