Volume 92, Issue 23

Thursday, October 15, 1998

talk it out


Size matters

It's remarkable how three groups of people, fighting for the same cause, hoping for the same end result, cannot even come together to organize a protest.

Last week, the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, Student Unite Power Action and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance cancelled a protest scheduled for tomorrow in Waterloo after OUSA pulled out its support. The rally was supposed to raise awareness of student issues such as debt levels, rising tuition and the need for a reformed student aid program. Tomorrow, at OUSA's general meeting, where the protest was supposed to take place, will be nothing but silence.

Awareness will not be increased.

The problem stemmed from a disagreement within the groups organizing the protest about what kind of demonstration should be held, with WPIRG and SUPA saying it should be more aggressive and less restrictive while OUSA wanted a peaceful, less aggressive rally.

Nothing is going to get accomplished if student groups can't figure out an effective way to unite and get their messages across.

An effective protest should not involve the police. The Canadian Federation of Students, a student lobby group, has gotten national coverage for many of their protests but for the wrong reasons. They reach the evening news because of which bank they occupied or how many people were arrested and the message always gets muddled.

OUSA protests, on the other hand, have been known to be a little camera-shy and haven't regularly found themselves on television screens across the nation. This is in large part because peaceful rallies don't make big news.

So here lies the problem. CFS-style rallies always bring out tons of people which is needed. OUSA-style protests are almost always peaceful and convey a clearer message but attract fewer people. Put those two together and you have a huge crowd of people conveying a more positive message. Compromise alone, however, isn't quite going to do it.

The protest needs to screw up someone's day and then people will start to listen. If you want to protest O-week at Western, get huge crowds of people to picket every door leading into the Stevenson-Lawson Building and President Paul Davenport will have trouble getting to work in the morning.

The saying there's power in numbers must be abided by here. Student lobby groups must finally put their differences aside so the student voice can be strong and unified.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998