It’s hard to recall instances when there have been protests on Oswego State’s campus. My only fuzzy memory is of the small Occupy Oswego protest back in 2011. Besides this teensy blip on the protest radar, protests aren’t heard of here.
Currently, the city of Hong Kong is experiencing national attention for its protests.
Clearly China is not a democratic country. In fact, China’s form of government is quite the opposite: communism. The Chinese Communist Party is easily the largest political party in China. Subpar history lessons from middle school have taught Americans that communism is a no-no. China’s rigid government, ironically named the People’s Republic, is the most commonly known communist nation in the world and strictly governs its people.
In communist China, protests are unacceptable. However, Hong Kong is unique. In 1997 Hong Kong adopted its Basic Law, which states that it will exist with China in relation to the “one country, two systems” principle. Until that point, Hong Kong was controlled by Britain for over a century. Today, it is China-and yet, not exactly. The history of Hong Kong’s colonization means it has a culture and government that differs from China’s. Thus, many Hong Kong residents are outraged that Chinese leaders are attempting to control Hong Kong’s political ideals and refuse the city democracy.
The outcry comes after a decision was made in August by the Chinese government to limit those who could run for the leadership of Hong Kong in the 2017 elections. This is an encroachment of Hong Kong’s democratic principles. Furthermore, students and activists are protesting the city’s current economic conditions, which are also linked to the mainland’s politics.
Even with the haunting history of nearby Beijing’s Tiananmen Square massacre, students in Hong Kong began protesting against the government’s restrictive decision by starting a class boycott on Sept. 26. Thousands have joined the Occupy Central movement in the past week, lining the streets of Hong Kong and blocking its financial center, all while enduring arrests and tear gas for the sake of democracy.
Here at Oswego State, our rights are also violated, and yet no notable protests have occurred since the scoffed Occupy Oswego. Even Free Speech Friday, which began in Sept. 2011, dwindled and died off by spring of 2012.
Why not protest more? Just last year a student was suspended in an incident that some argued was an infringement upon his freedom of speech, causing Oswego State to be ranked as one of “The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013” in The Huffington Post. Obamacare is now limiting student workers’ hours. Just as students in Hong Kong are outraged by their lack of voice, so should Oswego students be upset over heated issues-the rising cost of tuition, interest rates on student loans, the bleak job outlook for college graduates, LGBT issues, sexual assaults on campus-the list goes on.
If there is dissatisfaction with what is happening at Oswego State, why not protest? Change is happening in Hong Kong, a city surrounded by communism; we live by U.S. supreme law, which contains the First Amendment that upholds freedom of speech. Surely change can happen here too, and it should.