As a former student leader at UTM, Ive had an opportunity to take part in several student demonstrations similar to the one that took place last week. Students are often criticized for being too apathetic and disconnected with the political process. Indeed, voter apathy among youth is evident even in the student union elections that take place every year, usually around February. However, the students who took part in last weeks demonstration achieved something that day. They proved that they are not apathetic, and they proved that they are willing to fight for what they believe in even if it means marching outside through the freezing rain. Now that the demonstration is over, what happens next? I am here to suggest to all those who took part and to those that didnt that demonstrations are not a means to an end but merely the beginning. Our political system is designed to give every citizen the opportunity to shape the policies of our government through the democratic process.
Democracy requires citizens to be engaged and remain active and youth must always be involved in that process. The values that students develop through their engagement in political involvement such as demonstrations are important because it can lead towards a more active participation in the democratic process. The alternative is cynicism and that can only lead to more apathy and disengagement. As weve seen in Barack Obamas election, youth can be a powerful voice inside a political party and that can mean the difference between winning and losing. In politics, change is shaped by the people that are involved in the democratic process. You may not win every battle and it may take longer than you initially expected but you can and will make a difference if you continue to stay engaged.