Student activists use social media

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Student activists use social media

In the midst of the midterm elections and various growing movements with America’s youth at the forefront, Pensacola State College (PSC) students are certainly not exempt. Social media has allowed students to stand their ground and create their own page in history.

The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848, and its purpose was to educate and spread awareness to the public about women’s long-endured pain and suffering.

In 1913, women marched into Washington to show Congress how serious they were about equality with their male counterparts.

It wasn’t until 1919 that the people voted on the Nineteenth Amendment and a year later it was ratified. It took over 60 years for women to be heard and for actions to be implemented on their behalf.

Television wasn’t invented until 1927, so the mass communication tools relied on at the time were limited to newspapers and radio.

The Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) was able to take advantage of and finesse this new communication method and innovation superbly. Television supported the cause of the movement in ways beyond what mere spreading by word of mouth could accomplish – it not only reflected on but also increasingly shed light on the ongoing physical distress that common civilians experienced from tactics that cops were using.

More recently, with the advent of social media, something as simple as a tweet or a post can spread awareness much faster than old forms of communication.

Michael Blackwell, a Pensacola State College (PSC) student, is a Democratic Party activist who is also active with the Phil Ehr campaign.

Blackwell, who got involved in politics because he was passionate about the environment, said, “I think it’s gonna last. We’re seeing a huge surge among the educated population [become] more aware of their surroundings.”

He believes the youth of this generation will accomplish their goals, and be even more successful than those in the past. “Activism is much less counterculture and more mainstream now,”  Blackwell said. “Now, it’s very high profile with media and normal for college life.”

Not a believer in the theory that student activists are ignorant of their respective causes, Blackwell said, “I think they’re very serious. I think they’re looking at what older generations are doing, and they’re shocked and horrified and want to take the future into their own hands before there’s not a future to take.”

He also rejects the belief that activism goes no further than Trump. “People are looking at what’s going on and forming their own opinions. This generation’s protest movement is much more educated, and not just protesting because the government is ‘evil man.’”

When we look back on PSC’s publication history from 1991, we find a case where the Corsair staff stapled condoms into some of the issues with the purpose of promoting safe sex.

That was almost thirty years ago, when Pensacola was generally dominated by far-right ways of thinking, one of which was the belief that people should save sex for marriage.

We must take into consideration that PSC is a community college that caters to a wider age range than that of other traditional universities.

It is not uncommon to see adult students of community colleges also juggling a job (or jobs), relationships and children, so it’s not puzzling to see nonexistent activism in Pensacola State’s own political history.

Concerning the younger crowd, some have been motivated by the cries of their peers to donate their time to activism while others have taken a more skeptical approach.

“I haven’t been inspired at all. Kids have reacted emotionally without using proper research when protesting against our government. What has resulted from this is just the rights of us young people being taken away without solving the issue,” said Philip O’Brien, a PSC student. “While I think anyone with an opinion who wants change should contact their representatives, I think it’s better to think logically when presenting your opinion.”  

O’Brien, an advocate for personal liberty and small government and has worked for Congressman Matt Gaetz and Florida State Representative Mike Hill, believes more young people should step up.

“They better start being serious and taking action,” O’Brien said. “As of right now, senior citizens call all the shots…We better start getting out there and voting in order to take part in the same rights and privileges as every other adult American citizen. If it’s a trend, let’s hope it leads to young people making some serious decisions and going out there to vote.”

A common criticism of student activists is that the extent of their activity stems from strong feelings towards President Trump, with naysayers believing they will lose interest after his Presidency.

O’Brien does not agree. “Many are passionate about Trump, and many have acted off emotion without doing the proper research on the issue. But I do think that there is a possibility that many young people will gather an interest in politics even after the Trump administration unlocking a new focus on a certain voting demographic.”

Another PSC student, Taylor Smith, is the president of the Santa Rosa Young Democrats, Precinct Committeewoman of the Santa Rosa Democratic Party, Co-Director for Unite Women of Florida and a local March for our Lives leader/organizer.

“It’s worth noting that some of our most successful social justice movements were sparked by the actions of the young. Some of the most recent include Black Lives Matter, Dreamers Fighting for Immigration Reform and a group of young Native Americans [that] started the Standing Rock movement in South Dakota,” Smith said. “Movements led by young folks have shaped the society we live in today.”

Meanwhile, according to a poll conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the majority of Americans are “alarmingly ignorant” of the United States’ history and heritage.

Plant the seed, fight with passion for what is believed in – it has already proved to yield desired results, changing history.

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