Election season has come to a close, and while political activity on Boston University’s campus was prevalent in 2012, it differed from the demonstrations that took place in years past.
The decades between the 1970s and the 1990s were tumultuous decades on BU’s campus. In 1972, students protested the Vietnam War and BU’s alleged complicity with the war effort. A decade later, students protested over the Student Activities Office’s decision to prohibit the rock band the Ramones from playing on campus. The following year, students were up in arms again, this time over the university’s decision to prohibit overnight guests.
Political Facebook posts or tweets might not be as tangible as protests, but that seems to be the direction student activism is heading in.
Rather than form physical protests, BU students spouted their political beliefs on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. During the vice presidential and presidential debates, students critiqued the candidates, occasionally pulling a line or two from their debate performances and analyzing them. Students also liked candidates’ pages or joined groups to proliferate certain views via social media.
Perhaps the reason why more students are choosing social media over protests is because social media affords them an opportunity to speak personally on issues. A Facebook post or tweet can be posted by an individual, while an effective protest must be coordinated among several people. Those people must share a common vision and be committed to the protest, not simply jump on the bandwagon. One reason the Occupy movement fizzled out was because it lacked a unified voice, as it advocated for a number of vaguely defined issues pertaining to the 99 percent.
Social media also offers a survey of different viewpoints. Some students prefer this, as it exposes them to all sides of an issue. With a protest, only one side is really represented.
While social media is less tangible than protests, it is still a worthy and future-forward platform for diffusing one’s political views.