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It’s time to STRIKE the match of protest.

It’s 3 a.m. in Matteotti Square of Geona, Italy and the meager mist is all at once entwined with the stench of burning flesh—a stench accompanied by a violent mass of flames, struggling to muffle the cries of student Kostas Georgakis. “Down with the tyrants! Down with the tyrants!” Kostas, in an act of arguably radical protest, set himself on fire as a final plea for the fall of a doctoral regime.

Forty-three years later, students gather in the courtyard of Georgia State; several holding fingers up, in stack fashion, eagerly awaiting their chance to purge their disdain for what many of them call “the white supremacy union.” A sea of assorted ethnicities, they have assembled to protest against the newly formed White Student Union.

Finding its way through the groans of injustice, a voice asserts, “If you ignore them, they will grow louder,” bringing the uproar to a responsive halt to which approving nods and warranted applause follow. The assertion begs the question, “What obligation does the student have to its most authentic form of activism: protest?” To it, I assuredly reply, “every obligation.”

Ayn Rand Conference 2019

While the actions that took place at last Thursday’s assembly do not resemble or remotely favor those of Kostas, the passion that permeated the air seemed to mirror the said passion of the Greek protestor. This passion, expressed through elevated voices and raised fists, originated in the student’s desire for change. The desire for change isn’t a foreign emotion in the student. In fact, it’s one that seems to coincide with a collegiate experience.

For many of us, campus is the first encounter we have with issues that lend a forum and a platform to challenge those issues. It’s the first taste of organic democracy to our virgin tongues. A sort of wink and nod from those young men of Harvard University in 1776 who, in objection to poor food service, staged the first documented protest declaring “Behold, our butter stinketh!” To rid yourself of this right would tear pages—the sum of a chapter—out of your very own buildings roman. Yet the streets of Georgia State are more often void of the Panther protestor.

While we’ve hosted our share of protests in recent years—most notably that of immigration law protestors, who upon sitting in the streets were arrested—our efforts seem dim compared to those of other students around the world. Consider the Canadian student who, in 2012, gathered with 300,000 of his students to protest raised tuition prices. Consider the Chilean student who, in 2012, joined 200,000 of her peers, facing water cannons and tear gas, to increase funding for higher education.

While the numeric value of our population doesn’t equal even half of these bodies of protestors, there’s no plausible reason for the meager presence of student protestors in a school of 32,000 students. Our tuition continues to increase, our funds continue to deplete, and our fellow peers continue to fight for an education that we’ve been granted; however, a gathering of no more than a couple hundred attend campus protests with others standing by, scanning the “spectacle.”

I have to acknowledge that there are numerous ways of protesting and the assembly of students or bold font flyers are not the sole or—in some cases—most productive way to protest. Consider the Chinese student who, in 1989, along with his peers, took up a hunger strike that would later result in the reprimanding of his government. Even closer to home, consider the Georgia State student, who, in 1992, conducted the largest sit-in this campus has seen in protest of several racially derogatory incidents.

Wake Forest University

While we must acknowledge and applaud the efforts of initiatives like the Georgia State student protest of Hope cuts in 2012, it’s simply not enough. The rapid winds of the student protestor seems trapped in the 1960s with the dust it’s kicked up lingering in the 70s. But the student of past and the student of today are no different in their need of change. At a time when Syria is the prospective subject of war, our grievances of social injustice and political system failures echo those of the passionate 1970s Kent State student.

I revisit the voice that found its way through the groans of injustice, “If you ignore them, they will grow louder!” And I challenge you, in the spirit of Kostas, grasp the extinguished match that is your voice and set it ablaze.