Young people pave the streets of tomorrow

Gabija Gataveckaite

In recent weeks, protest and activism have been dominating the news cycle. However, this time around there has been a change in its participants. Young people from all walks of life are leading the protests, fighting for their rights and striving for justice. From the ‘March for Our Lives’  campaign in America to protests on college campuses like ‘Take Back Trinity’ and ‘Shanowen Shakedown’, young people are using the power of social media to spread awareness of their campaign.

The ‘March for Our lives’ campaign is one that has gained global attention. After the horrific Parkland shooting, the survivors decided to act. The students of the shooting are at the forefront of this protest; demanding gun reform. Many tried to diminish the voice of the students, but that didn’t stop them from fighting back. On March 8th, students across America gathered together in Washington D.C- however, not everyone viewed their protest as brave or strong.

Fox News was one of the main opposers to the March, calling out the students, with one anchor saying, “…  I don’t want a lesson on the Second Amendment from a sixteen-year-old…”. A contributor for the network went as far as to say that the students “really have no idea what they were talking about”. The negative commentary on the Parkland students’ activism has not deterred them from their objective.

Back in Ireland, young people, particularly students are causing quite the political storm. Last month the students of Trinity fought back against the introduction of €450 supplement fee for exams. This is a flat fee whereby students will be charged €450 if they need to repeat an exam, regardless of it’s one exam or more. The students of Trinity along with their Students Union, decided to act and started protesting on their campus. The students took to social media to engage students not only in Trinity, but all around Ireland.  A hashtag called ‘TakeBackTrinity’ was circulating across the Twitter-sphere.

DCU students are another group of young people who are also engaging in activism. A recent increase of 27 per cent in off-campus student accommodation, Shanowen Square, erupted in yet another student protest which captivated the country through social media. The hashtag ‘Shanowen Shakedown’ quickly became the number one trending topic in Ireland on Twitter. The protest was receiving national coverage and even politicians were coming out supporting the students.

Speaking to Sorcha Murphy, who is the architect behind the social media campaign for ‘Shanowen Shakedown’, she says how “social media is what brought awareness to our story”. She goes on to say that without social media our crisis would have never spread outside the circle of DCU. By using the tools of social media Murphy explains how they were able to spread the message to those outside DCU and even to celebrities such as Laura Whitmore and Dara O’Briain.

If the past few weeks have shown us anything it is that students are a force to be reckoned with and that they won’t back down.

Niamh Dunne 

Image Credit: Michael Walsh