I LOVE DANCING, but because of extremely demanding school and work lives, I barely get to go out and shake my booty. You can imagine my excitement when I realized I could combine work and a dance party as I followed Ottawa’s National Day of Action parade.
The so-called protest started out on Morisset Terrace with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) executive and volunteers offering me free Drop Fees clothing, professionally made signs, and tiny plastic whistles.
Once I got past the confusion, noise, and scarce Drop Pants, Not Fees protesters, I realized just how much money was poured into the National Day of Action. Seemingly professional audio equipment was on-site, a few tents were set up to draw students in, and every passerby got a Drop Fees sign shoved into their hands.
It only got worse as the march from the U of O to Parliament Hill began. Amalia Savva was rapping about high tuition fees to music played by a seemingly professional DJ, all the while standing on a make shift fleet-truck that was followed by a crowd of about 500 people.
Although I don’t support the Drop Fees campaign, I respect a need to protest for the cause you believe in. That said, protests shouldn’t be dance parties. Look at Egypt, Syria, and the Occupy movement—they fought for what they believed in without playing pop songs for supporters or giving out free stuff to rope people into participating.
Although I was unable to find out the total cost of the event, something tells me it was higher than necessary. Having major Ottawa streets blocked off, in addition to all that swag, must have cost students a pretty penny.
If students actually believed in the Drop Fees movement, there would be no need to bribe them with free hats and half-hearted promises of fun. Protests can be organized using little to no budget, and funds the SFUO put toward the National Day of Action could have been put to better use.
Maybe next year the SFUO will consider redirecting the campaign’s budget toward its failing businesses or organizing events that truly engage the majority of the U of O’s student population. Tuition fees may be high, but so are SFUO fees, and I want to see mine put to better use than a half-dance party, half-protest.