jump to navigation

Turn dissatisfaction into action July 21, 2011

Posted by Chris Garbutt in Student Life.
Tags: , , , ,

I admit that it’s a lot easier to complain about something than it is to change it. In the last Toronto election, 53 percent of eligible voters turned out. But doesn’t it seem like a lot more than half of the population is complaining? This same pattern is reflected in our own university where last year’s UTSU elections only attracted a voter turnout of only 7 percent!

Political activism is about making an effort to change policies and create better ones. And it begins at home. Every year, you can vote for your representative on U of T’s Governing Council. It’s as easy as logging into ROSI! U of T also offers an elected student union for each program on campus. Whether you’re interested in adding your name to the ballot or just casting a vote, it’s easier than you think.

Voting isn’t the only opportunity for some good ol’ fashioned democratic action! “Political activism is so simple,” says Sane Moyo, a 2011 U of T grad who founded her own charity to protect oppressed communities in Kenya. “It’s not just about joining clubs. When you’re walking down St George, accept a flyer. Take a minute to stop. Engage in conversation! Even if you disagree, dialogue is where it starts.”

And dialogue encourages action. As students, we have spent a good portion of our lives stocking up on information. University is a forum where we share that information with others and form ideas through discourse. What better place to apply these new ideas than at a level where they make a difference?

There are several politically active groups on campus. These range from the party-affiliated like the Campus Conservatives, U of T NDP or the U of T Liberals, to other unaffiliated groups such as the Black Students Association. Sane worked with the BSA to organize events raising awareness about political injustice towards marginalized groups. Cultural and special interest groups are politically active without adhering to specific party politics.

Max Pachecho, a member of the U of T NDP, describes his interest in political involvement as “awareness of what is happening in our world”. Working with the NDP has given him an opportunity to “reach out to the student body and other like minded groups.” Meeting others who share your beliefs gives you the confidence to spread awareness and inspire action.

For those of us who prefer to complain (yes, sometimes me!), there is a way to turn political dissatisfaction into action. The Varsity prints opinion pieces from readers as do the larger city newspapers. If you like to aim a little higher, letters to your Member of Parliament or even the Prime Minister are free to send!

So get out there and be heard! As Sane points out “It’s our school. It’s our campus. It’s our country. If we don’t speak up about it, no one else will.”

– Bethany McKoy, Communications Assistant and Writer, Office of Student Life