I am not a one for protest, I much prefer writing letters and speaking to people to get my point of view across. Because for me, protests don’t work due to the sensationalism of the media, and the violent actions of a few, the message gets lost. The media report what they want to report, twisting and turning the truth, hanging on points that aren’t particularly accurate or at all relevant. And in some instances not reporting what is really going on.
I am disillusioned, disappointed and left empty from political parties that care more about their political standing then the society they are supposed to represent. From the Media who care more about the fact that a royal armoured car was attacked, then the kettling tactics of the police on Westminster bridge till late on in the evening or the mounted police charging at crowds.
The majority of students who attended the protests were well ordered, polite, witty, (check out @UCLOccupation’s ConDem 12 Days of Christmas– it’s excellent) and well educated, particularly the ones which started their peaceful if not a little loud protest, right outside my office yesterday lunchtime. It was a proportionate response to government actions, a model for the exercise of freedom of speech in a supposed political democracy.
Now I don’t believe that there shouldn’t be fees; I don’t particularly have a problem with students contributing to their education, not to the extent to which is now expected however. I was lucky enough to not have to pay top up fees or soon to be just ‘fees’ to go to university. I still did have to pay to be educated at a good university, took out a loan, and now a significant proportion of my wage goes to the Student Loans Company, every month, for what is likely to be the next 30 years.
What I don’t agree with is this (something which the media doesn’t seem to remember very often): that increased fees will not complement Government funding for teaching, but substitute for it. Withdrawing funding from universities for providing undergraduate education, except in some instances for STEM subjects, (science, clinical and laboratory) and certain modern languages subjects. Apparently culture, arts and humanities don’t deserve support from the public purse. So for most subjects the student fee becomes the only source of funding, rather than a ‘top up’ contributory source. This represents the final transformation of our education system into a commercial venture. I do not wish to be a commodity.
So yes, I am left disillusioned, disappointed and empty.
However, I was very impressed with the UCL Occupation. They utilised social media amazingly. Taking tools which have classed the Google generation as mediocore, distracted, apathetic and unable to think critically and have used them to their advantage. UCL Occupation has over 4000 followers on Twitter, utilise flickr, vimeo and youTube and yesterday they used a Google live map of police activity and reported the whole protest live. Even the bits that the traditional media chose not to.
They give hope to what is a bleak future for education.