About two weeks ago, my University organized their own protest and march for “The Million Student March”. This march was intended to be a collective day, where students across the country organize for free or lowered college tuition.
As soon as I got the invite to participate in this event, I knew I wanted to be there to capture the moment and learn more about the cause. Although the end goal for this rally is about college tuition there were lots of other causes involved.
I had two reasons for wanting to attend such an event. The first reason being as I said to capture the moment and educate myself. My other reason being that, S.A.F.E (my organization) was going to be in attendance. One of the organizations that I am involved in is the “Student activists for Female Empowerment.” My organization is dedicated to protecting and fighting for women’s rights and encouragement. We are particularly dedicated to fighting rape culture and sexual assault. My university (like many others) is not very committed to protecting sexual assault victims or prevention. In fact, they are currently under investigation for possibly hiding information and encouraging victims to not report.
Recently, my school announced plans to build a $100 million stadium down the street from campus. Although this is an exciting event, it causes a dilemma among the student body. For my organization in particular, it was a big slap in the face. We have been lobbying for my University to put in place a sexual assault center or counselor for students to go to when sexually assaulted or to gain information on what to do if you or someone you know has been. The school assured us that there just wasn’t enough money and resources to put something like that in place. And yet the university somehow was able to scrap up 100 million (because thats so easy to get) for a football stadium. To me that sends a message that my university values profit, athleticism and ratings over student safety and comfortability. Obviously, this is an issue I feel very strongly about. My organization was invited to attend this rally on behalf of this particular issue. One of our organization leaders made a speech about why this discussion deserves attention.
The rally had a lot of speakers that were impressive and articulate. I was surprised by the amount of faculty members that chose to come out and speak on behalf of the cause. A good amount of students were in attendance but the rain made the turn out significantly less than it could have been. The time of the rally also posed a lot of problems for students.
The march began at Temple, moving around campus, to protest the presidents office. By the time the rally had gotten to the doors there were already police and faculty blocking off the entrance. One of the speakers made a point by announcing that this was not only a public place but that we pay to have access to these buildings. From an unbiased perspective I didn’t think the staff handled the issue well. As a reporter, I noticed some very unprofessional manners coming from the faculty under the presidents reign. Some went as far to laugh about the matter and the representatives refused to speak on behalf of the university.
The march proceeded from that building to Philadelphia’s City Hall. Temple University’s march walked to join Drexel, Penn and other Philly school groups who were participating in their own marches.
At City hall, everyone gathered around to speak and listen. The discussion became almost like a unofficial town hall meeting. People of all ages and backgrounds spoke about serious issues that come into play with Universities and tuition. Poverty, racial biases, debt, sexual assault and minimum wage were just some of the many topics discussed.
I felt as though some of the speakers got a little bit off track. While, some of them were very powerful and moving there was also a lot of people who clearly didn’t have what they said planned out or organized. From a journalists perspective, I feel as though it is extremely important to have speakers hand picked and organized for rallies and events. The way that causes like this move forward and gain recognition is via media and journalism outlets. Having unprepared, unprofessional or extremist speakers only draws the media in to cover solely those speakers. Yes publicity is publicity but if you want the general public to have your back, a cause needs to appear as though their representatives are dependable and intelligent.
Like I said, many of the speakers did very well. I was especially impressed by some of Temple’s own speakers at the start of the rally. I am anxious to hear about the feed back and discussions that will follow the rally.
I encourage any of my readers to go out and organize for causes that you care about. If something peaks your interest than get involved to become more educated on different points of view. By attending and documenting rallies, I am able to decipher my own view points and take away something from each. Never let one view point dictate your entire belief about a particular cause, person or organization. Life is never that black and white, most of the time you need to form your own combination of ideas.