Students use social networking as a forum for activism

Kyle Reynolds and Kyle Reynolds

When Steve Currie wanted to promote his organization the Coalition for USG Reform and their rally for a Stroh Center Referendum he turned to Facebook to get the word out. ‘ ‘Everyone has a Facebook, so it is easy to reach the whole campus’ Currie said. ‘So we made a group and some others had similar groups so we networked with them and got everything together.’ ‘ Montana Miller, assistant professor of popular culture, teaches a course on social networking and online communities and said Facebook may be the best way to reach students to promote activist activities or voice their concerns. ‘ ‘It probably reaches more people because Facebook is so big,’ Montana Miller said. ‘Not that many people will walk by a demonstration.’ ‘ At the Stroh Center referendum rally the Coalition had a petition they were getting students to sign to allow them a vote on whether to approve USG’s endorsement of the facility. ‘ A cyber-petition was also started up by a member of the Coalition, which would not have been valid, Currie said. The petition at the rally received many more signatures than its cyber equivalent and it was enough to get a referendum for students, Currie said. ‘ Tyrus Blue, a petitioner with Professional Petition Management ,was on campus last week petitioning to get a proposition on the state ballot that would bring casinos to four Ohio cities, including Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. ‘ Getting people to sign the petition was difficult, Blue said. ‘ ‘People are not friendly here,’ Blue said. ‘They are too busy or not interested to sign until they find out more about the issue.’ One of our guys was hit my an old man with a cane.’ ‘ A cyber-petition would be more effective because people would not have to go out of their way to sign anything, said Ryan Bunch, another petitioner with Professional Petition Management. ‘ ‘If people just had to go on a Web site and type their name it would probably be a lot easier to get this filled up,’ Blue said. ‘ ‘ In order for a digital activist movement to be most successful having some face-to-face interaction is needed eventually, said assistant professor of political science Melissa Miller. ‘ ‘If you can get those online activists to meet face-to-face they suddenly have a connection with the other members and will keep them hooked as opposed to the faceless connections online,’ Melissa Miller said. ‘ Social networking can not only mobilize a group for a demonstration, but can bring outsiders to the event. ‘ ‘You can get more attention that way so you can hold a rally people will notice, maybe the media will pick it up,’ Melissa Miller said. The reason activism is going online is because activists have grown up with this technology, said Melissa Miller. ‘ ‘Activists in general tend to be younger and they have more free time and energy,’ Melissa Miller said. ‘They don’t typically have the children and the mortgages tugging at them, so they have more time available.’ You combine that with fact that they tend to use the Internet more than their elder peers and you get a really good combination.’