College students often lead the charge when it comes to protesting political decisions and even decisions made by their school’s board of trustees that affect students for the worse. If you are passionate about an issue, you may choose to express yourself by joining or leading a group of protesters so that your voice will be heard loud and clear. Here we’ll discuss the ins and outs of protesting as a college student.
Protest Peacefully and Lawfully
The right to peaceably assemble is built into the First Amendment and gives workers the right to strike and students the right to protest. However, protesters can get arrested while protesting if they break the law while doing so. For instance, if protesters decide to block major roads or interstates to where cars can’t get through or protesters risk injury by vehicles trying to pass, police may arrest the protesters in the interest of public safety. If protestors throw punches or rocks at people or property, they can be arrested for assault or criminal mischeif. Another aspect of protesting peacefully is committing to not using racial slurs, profanity or obscene gestures at anyone during the protest.
Protest in Large Numbers
If you want to get your voice heard, amplify that voice by protesting in large numbers. It helps to join a student organization dedicated to a particular cause if you want to find like-minded individuals to protest alongside you.
Send a Clear Message
Many protesters get their messages across by picketing and chanting slogans, but the message can be lost if the signs and chants aren’t clear. Gather a group together once or twice before the official protest to decide on the message you want to get across to the lawmakers or organization in question and also to the journalists who might be covering your protest event. Also, all too many picket signs are rendered ineffective by having so many words crammed onto them that no one can read it, or by featuring egregious spelling errors that make the protester appear stupid.
Let the Press in on It
In the week leading up to the protest, it’s often a good idea to let the local media—including newspapers, news stations and radio stations—know that you are organizing a protest. They may or may not decide to show up depending on the size of the protest and how exciting your message is, but at least you’ve given them an opportunity to send a staffer out to cover your event and give you some free publicity.
Go Beyond Protesting
Finally, go beyond protesting by sending letters to your congress member, voting in elections where the issues you care about are at stake and raising awareness through organized campaigns. After all, protesting is only one part of what it takes to truly make a difference.