Commentary: Viva la (student) revolución

There is a need for the mobilization of the student revolution in order to overthrow our post-secondary woes.


"Guerilla Fratboy". Graphic by Justin Tan (Original photo "Guerrillero Heroico" by Alberto Korda, 1960)

Bob Dylan said it best when he sang to the disillusioned youth of the 1960s, “there’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’.” Indeed, there have been many battles in some form or another in 2011 alone. They have been raging outside our windows and we have been watching them from a safe and comfortable distance.

Revolution is surely in the air. The first of the Arab Spring uprisings and demonstrations last January in Tunisia set off a wave of sociopolitical activism throughout the world, which has culminated in the worldwide Occupy movements we are currently in the midst of.

But despite what people have witnessed this year, or for that matter, throughout most of history, revolution does not necessarily mean violence. Revolution means change—more specifically, the desire and need for it.

Students everywhere are in dire need of such a revolution. Yet there is no reason to declare it—it’s already here. The spirit of revolution has made its way to us, seeping in through the closed doors of our dormitories or rented three or five-bedroom flats.

We are already a part of the student revolution, most of us just don’t know it yet.

The terms of our revolution

I do not aim here to address specifics (i.e. exorbitant tuition costs, student loan or scholarship exclusivity, lack of institution funding, uncertainty of employment after obtaining post-secondary education, the right vs. privilege approach to said education, and so on), but instead aim to specifically address something in which students across Canada and the rest of the world participate.

What is the driving force of our revolution? Think about what issues irk us. Reflect on the changes that beckon us.  Let us fixate ourselves on the struggles that stir our emotions or the injustices that cause great storms to brew within our bloodstream.

A consensus on discontentment with the post-secondary status quo is all that is needed in designing the blueprints for the revolution mechanism. Yet many students fail to see that the blueprints are already here. They were being circulated before we even took the first class of our first semester in our freshman year. It is actually the mechanism’s gears that we need to set in motion.

The silent revolution we fight

It is silent in that it is not something that is televised on our favourite network during prime time, or broadcast over the airwaves on FM frequencies. But it is a revolution nonetheless, one we often debate in our minds or in impassioned discussions amongst our circles of friends during the four, six or (God forbid) 10 years we are in school.

It is a muted revolution where already a disproportionate few have taken up arms for our cause (thank you, student unions and student rights advocates). If anything can be said of the truism that there is power in numbers, then we, the students, often appear to be powerless in our own revolution.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth, because the entire student body in every city or town, within each province and across all nations far outnumbers those who decide the status quo. All we need is for the rest of the students to join the frontline. When we can all gather to speak with our collective voice and move to exercise our collective power, revolution will happen. The onus is on each and every person that makes up the student body whole to break the silence and make our revolution be heard.

¡Viva la revolución estudiantil!

Like a stylized poster of Che Guevara hanging on a roommate’s wall, our rallying words should read, “Long live the student revolution!” Better yet, long live the revolutionary student, who will someday rise from the depths of this revolution a future catalyst for other great humane revolutions to come.



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