Student marching season
Today a student protest march will be taking place in Dublin, and the organisers expect thousands to take part. The purpose of the protest is to put pressure on politicians not to increase the student registration charge, to provide adequate student grants and to secure jobs for graduates.
I am not a stranger to protest marches. Those I remember taking part in as a student and postgraduate and as a young lecturer concerned Vietnam, contraception, and third world aid. I don’t in any way want to suggest that today’s protest is not appropriate (I am not unsympathetic to some of the demands, though sceptical about others), but for all that it is a shame that nowadays student activism, when it erupts in these rare moments, is fundamentally concerned with self-interest.
I cannot help feeling that student engagement with the big issues of the day is often disappointing – but I also wonder whether this is in part the fault of the universities or perhaps the system, and that we don’t sufficiently encourage extra-curricular interests and activities. It is something to ponder.
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