How To Deal With Campus Protestors
Start writing a post
Student Life

How To Deal With Campus Protestors

Stop gawking and keep walking.

How To Deal With Campus Protestors
Julie Green

Your opinion isn't as important as you think it is. While it's great that you have your own opinions and that you take the time to develop them (You should!), very few others need to know about it. That's why we have the common phrase, "Nobody asked for your opinion"—because most of the time, no one did. So if you see someone contesting what you believe, getting up there and trying to argue with them about why they're wrong probably won't change much (With few exceptions—like if that opinion is actively harming someone, intervention might be needed). You shouldn't try to force your opinions on others the same way others shouldn't force their opinions on you.

When you combine freedom of speech with a large public university, any open space becomes an easy location for some kind of demonstration to set up shop. All of the ingredients for drawing a crowd to see your message are on-hand: a mass of people with diverse and divisive views, students willing to (loudly) vocalize their own opinions, and explicit university rules on what demonstrators and their audiences are/are not permitted to do.

It's practically impossible to go through four years of college without seeing or participating in a demonstration. A February UCLA survey found that 8.5 percent of students said there was a "very good chance" they would participate in a protest while enrolled—a 2.9 percent hike above the 2014 survey results and the highest in the study's history.

But not everyone holds the same opinions. When someone confronts you with their beliefs, and those beliefs just seem illogical, irrational and downright stupid, it can really grind your gears. The best response isn't to grab a louder megaphone. It isn't to get in a standing argument with whoever is trying to convince you that everyone on earth is going to hell. It isn't to mill around gawking, take videos for your Snapchat story, or even set up a counter-protest nearby.

The best response is to ignore it and walk away.

Without an active audience, demonstrators are more likely to pack up and leave. The whole point of them being there is to spread their message. By standing there, you are helping them achieve that goal. When they see a camera or a phone, they more gleefully assume that their mantra is going viral. If someone is passionate enough to stand hours in the blazing heat or freezing cold for what they believe, you are not going to be able to convince them what they are preaching is false. You could present the most logical, fact-based argument in the world, and chances are it will not change a protester's mind.

As one blogger puts it, "Often the professional protesters are out for their own fame and fortune...the politicians are out to save their hides. The developers are out to make money. If you get involved, you may be little more than a pawn in someone else's game. Being "outraged" is what they want you to do. But in the end analysis, it is often just a waste of your precious emotional energy."

Granted, there are amazing responses that do not involve giving any demonstrator the time of day. In July 2012, hundreds of Texas A&M students gathered to form a human wall around funeral services for alum Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale.

Ryan Slezia, a former Texas A&M student, heard chatter of Westboro Baptist Church's plans to picket the funeral, and devised the plan to derail them:

"It is proposed that we respond with true Aggie spirit.
In response to their yelling, we will be silent. Like silver taps, like Bonfire Memorial.
In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon.
In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm.
This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity."

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are important rights guaranteed to all American citizens. While we may not agree with what everyone has to say, the best way to disagree with protesters isn't always to establish a counter-protest. The best way to show them they are wrong is demonstrated by the way you live your life. You don't think gays and lesbians are going to hell? Making a sign isn't going to change much. Being supportive of your friend who is struggling with his/her sexuality? That's what makes a difference. No poster board or megaphone needed.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments