At the height of the Occupy movement, as well as the highly publicized Middle East uprisings, ‘The Protester,’ was dubbed Time Magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year.”
These protests took place months ago, but already they seem faded, as if from another lifetime. Repercussions from the protests and uprising dot the media upon occasion, but for the most part life seems to have come to a lull. The protests we’ve become accustomed to watching have given way to presidential campaigns and society news.
But don’t be fooled.
Time Magazine had good reason and great foresight to draw attention to the common-man archetype portrayed by its “Person of the Year” winner, for the rest of the world continues the insatiable quest for equality and justice.
In Mexico, arguably the largest protest-news stations in history sought to overturn a presidential ruling in July. In Chile, students are being brutally punished by police and government forces for protesting the country’s higher education system.
As WSU students gear up for a year of academia at one of the safest schools in the nation in one of the most protected nations in the world, it would serve students to look outward and watch for those who are not so fortunate. A developing consciousness of the world would complement the university’s “World Class” focus.
Society often forgets the power of a young voice, but, considering the recent Zzusis financial aid incident, I beg to differ. The frustration and outcry of students brought a human perspective to a technological issue and gained statewide attention. When the masses support fairness, they can create change.
Even positions that are less dire but undeniably important — like volunteering for Women’s Transit on campus and clubs in the multicultural student center — focus on understanding and overcoming inequality.
The first step WSU students could and should take is voting in the upcoming elections this November. Citizens are able to register up to 30 days before the election, leaving no room for excuse for those who have not yet registered. Exercising one's voice in democracy, though it may seem relatively inconsequential, is actually a massive accomplishment for any one person.
Students can bring a great deal of attention to problems. A few months ago, students at California universities shed preconceptions of immature youth and took action for something of value — their right to an affordable education.
When the time comes, though it may not be on WSU’s campus, academically and economically privileged members of this university would do well to remember the value of The Protester and stand up for what truly matters in this world.