Are students’ barks worse than their bites?

It has been impossible to miss the strikes that are happening across 62 universities, whether you are attending rallies, seeing solidarity Facebook profile pictures frames, or standing with the lecturers on the picket lines.

However, for the students who support these strikes, and stand in solidarity with our lecturers, one would ask, are we taking any action to support them? Or are we simply stating our support with very little follow through?

Since a number of students have been so open in showing their support for the strikes, I sent out a survey across universities to gauge what actions students are taking to aid the lecturers they so openly support online.

Primarily, half the respondents came out in favour of the striking lecturers, though some had reservations about the mode of striking, with concerns about grades being a common denominator. However, one respondent commented that ‘big change doesn’t happen with little actions’, and a few in support of the strikes mentioned how they will be avoiding university buildings during the strike days. Others mentioned how they had taken part in petitions demanding reimbursement of university fees in order to hasten the process.

Despite all of this discussion, when asking those what action has been taken with regard to supporting the staff, almost half the respondents mentioned that they were not taking any action, despite some of them coming out in favour of the strikes and what the lecturers wanted.

Does that mean that students are not following through on their beliefs? And is it their place to take action?

The BBC discussed the low turn out of 18-24 year old voters during the Brexit referendum after the results came in, and yet my Facebook was filled with anger from my age group towards older generations whom were planning on voting to leave the EU, despite not all of them voting. After the results came out, many of my student friends started adding themselves to Facebook events organising marches across large cities and calling for a second referendum, yet very few went on the marches or did anything else to support their cause after they had clicked ‘interested’ or ‘going’. If we are so vocal about our feelings, surely we should be taking action, otherwise these words become empty.

When one considers the students protesting during events such as the Hong Kong Protests in 2014, the small turn out at marches calling for a second referendum and the minimal students standing with lecturers despite the constant stream of online posts seems feeble; particularly when the internet is covered in effusive posts about the injustice occurring.

Of course, the protests mentioned above are a different situation to the current striking occurring in the universities across the UK, but the online presence of students in the UK versus their physical action does not match up.

No matter what, as our generation currently stands, our follow through record is less than impressive but perhaps, as with the reactionary turn out for the British elections, we may take more action than putting up an angry Facebook post and shutting off our phones.

Image: Andrew Perry

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