Student activism at the dawn of dismantlement
By Worthington Shingayi Jingura
What used to be revered as a powerful tide whose strength vehemently dominated the tertiary scholarly landscape, whose influence was mightier both beyond and above the fence, whose leaders were so fearless and highly influential within the four corners of many institutions most of them having being catapulted by the prestigious zeal of being the voice of reason and the voice of the voiceless.
What used to be a perfect gleam usually likened to an honorable knight on a majestic whole stallion has been reduced to a fallacy were eloquent and canning students predominantly showcase their enthrallment to draw big crowds and at the same time oozing sweet nothings with an absolute aim of throating gullible students to believe that the war that they are fighting is encroached and inculcated in the desire to emancipate the student.
What is student activism really all about? Is it still that powerful tide that immensely advocated for the emancipation of the student? Is it still student activism or it’s now a representative malaise gradually maturing to student politics? Students unions being a modicum of student activism have turned into conduits of party interests being used as enhancers to further political interests ahead of the student interests and conversely compromising their ability to represent the students.
Without questioning the social homogeneity of students, their political preferences are diverse and some students gladly distance themselves from party politics, but with the politicization of student activism, students shunning student unions has become an apparent feature.
With the inception of party politics into student activism, the once powerful tide founded and grounded on the values of unity and togetherness with a common goal has been stripped off its majestic power to usher in pleasant change in the tertiary scholarly arena. Beth Button once said, ‘The student movement is more divided than ever, but it must stand together to defend its values’ but how is it possible for student leaders to unite and work together with a common goal with the escalation of tensions, hate and anger amongst different student unions were differences in tactics are being drawn as the dividing lines at a time when the commonalities in values and beliefs should be uniting leaders of different unions.
The once powerful tide is now filled with vitriol and political vile, personal attacks being the order of the day, sexual harassment slowly turning into an unpleasant norm.
They all claim that the goal is to emancipate the students by addressing issues of academic freedom and calling administrations of tertiary institutions to order when they violate the rights of the students but why are they failing to coalesce around one cause and form a powerful alliance at a time when student concerns are being quashed left, right and center.
It is very torrid to denunciate the notion that student activism is now being used by greedy and selfish individuals with a voracious appetite for power and publicity as a tool and a stepping stone into the mainstream of national politics. The self-proclaimed heroes of our time masquerading as student leaders are more than willing to bend to the vices of party interests just to secure their seats at the big table with the big guys sipping wines with political players at the expense of gullible students.
Student activism is about unity regardless of the method of engagement enacted be it direct or constructive dialogue while student politics is about capitalizing on the gullibility of the students to amass individual benefits under the guise of fighting for the students.
We owe it to the next generation to build a student movement whose foundation is inculcated in the spirit of love, tolerance and collective action because without the basic values of cohesive and collective effort the powerful tide of student activism is at the dawn of dismantlement.