Let’s put the active back in activism

Sam Thielman

No one should have to sit out a sit-in. 

Protests and other methods of activism are great ways for people to come together and get involved in the political environment around them. The problem is, they only work if people show up.

In the days after the Sit-in for Student Safety a few weeks ago, several people mentioned to me that they care deeply about the issue — they just didn’t know about the protest. I’ve personally experienced this problem as well. There are a dozen events I would’ve liked to attend, but I only heard about them after the fact. To remedy this, the University should create a political action bulletin board where students and organizations can post information about upcoming events and anyone interested in getting involved can know where to look for information.

Often, the largest barrier confronting students who want to get more politically active is a lack of information. 

“I’ve sought to be civically engaged,” government freshman Meredith Baranosky said. “But it’s kind of hard to find organizations unless you’re looking very thoroughly.”

Most fliers I see are located on social boards in dorms and at kiosks around campus. They’re often lost in the maelstrom of other colorful posters that surround them. Word of mouth can only reach so many people, and if someone is only deeply invested in a few issues — just climate change and deforestation, for example — they may not be part of larger, more generalized political networks. 

Facebook pages and other social media posts are great, but they also typically require knowing someone who’s already going to the event. Even large events attended by hundreds can be missed if you don’t know the right people.

Having a single place where people can go get information about upcoming events would make it easier for many students to become politically active on campus. While a bulletin board may not be the end-all solution, it would certainly help.

A political action board would assist student political organizations as well. People want to attend events, and those organizing the events want people to come.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” said Joe Cascino, government sophomore and president of University Democrats. “We would be interested in putting some of our stuff there. Anyone who’s trying to put on a political event definitely wants a space to talk about it.”

There are bulletin boards up all over campus already. Large public buildings such as the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center and the Texas Union already have numerous boards up, so neither building should be particularly burdened by installing one more. 

“If that’s warranted and students said that that’s something they wanted, I’m sure we’d be willing to explore options,” said James Buckley, director of Facilities and Operations for University Unions. “A billboard display area doesn’t take a lot of engineering.”

While it may be old-school, bulletin boards still hold the potential to reach a large population of students — especially if placed in high-traffic areas. Let’s help students put the active back in activism.

Thielman is a history and rhetoric and writing sophomore from Fort Worth.