Senior Staff Writer
Students generally have a reputation of being very vocal, active, and rebellious during their college years. It is indeed the age in which we begin to discover the world around us and get a firsthand account of the injustices embedded in society.
Historically, student activism can be seen as a key player in shaping public opinion. The 1968 student movement in France, for example, sparked a huge revolution across the country which lead to major political changes.
AUB itself has witnessed several student protests which affected both the university and its surroundings.
In fact, AUB is known to be at the center of Lebanese student activism. Several political groups and movements have originated from campus. This inevitably gives us certain ideas and expectations about the potentiality of student activism today.
However, for a number of reasons, we have been witnessing the decline of movements created by and for the students in Lebanon and around the world. It is as if people do not share the same determination for change that was present years ago.
This contrast makes many of us wonder what happened to all those active and eager students who would not miss a chance to voice their anger and push for change. A simple answer would be that student activism does not work the same way it used to.
While social media is generally seen as a space for people to express themselves and form groups with those who share their ideas, a post with hundreds of likes is not an indicator of the revival of student activism. Several activists have argued that this rise in “clicktivism” is dangerous.
On Facebook and Twitter, you might find angry rants from individuals who seem ready to fight an army of opponents in order to achieve their goal. Nevertheless, in practice, you will rarely find the same amount of people who would be willing to take action in defense of their convictions.
Even with the supposedly massive space social media is granting us, students still seem to be moving away from activism. Now that information about them can be easily tracked down on the World Wide Web, it is understandable that they are more fearful when it comes to publicly exhibiting their rebellion and explicitly voicing their opinions.
On a university level, students may be concerned about backlash from the administration which could potentially harm their education. On a professional level, employers can now easily find employees’ information on social media and might not be pleased to have someone who defies authority as their employee. Considering that finding a job has become increasingly difficult for fresh graduates, many are starting to put their employment as a priority.
With that being said, voices for change are not silenced yet. Activism is not dead, but it is changing. Students are gradually becoming more keen on activism while using new means of communication to mobilize their audiences.
We need student activism, for it is where opinions are shaped.