Facebook makes protesting more convenient for students

Eight hundred students at Middlebury College formed a group to protest the change of the school’s seal.A Facebook group.

Students no longer need posters and signs to picket and rally against injustices. In fact, they don’t even have to leave their desk chairs.

With one click of the mouse, they can join other students in the latest protest on campus, in the region, state or even the world.

All because of the wonders of a little Web site called Facebook.

In the 21st century, the Internet is used for many basic human needs. Many people get their news online instead of from newspapers and magazines. You can buy just about anything you could ever want online. Some people even grocery shop or date online.

Times have changed, so why couldn’t you protest or support a cause via the Internet?

Forming an online protest group is quicker, more organized and can incorporate thousands of people from all over the world.

That’s what Middlebury senior Sarah Franco, a religion major, realized when she created the “Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo” group last July.

The school had changed Middlebury’s seal to a logo that looked like something akin to a blue Canadian maple leaf toward the end of last semester. Students like Franco were upset over this change, and she started the Facebook group to inform her friends about the new logo and to make fun of it.

In a matter of days her group had more than 300 members, and later that week the number jumped to more than 800.

One week after Franco started the Facebook group, Mike McKenna, vice president of communications, sent out a campus-wide e-mail stating that the logo would not be used to represent the school anymore – it would now only be used for a fundraising initiative.

The speed and success of the Middlebury protest demonstrates how efficiently the Internet, and particularly Facebook, connects people with common interests or beliefs, as well as enabling them to stage very quick and effective protests.

Franco said she would definitely use Facebook again for similar reasons because it is such an effective way to organize people. She also points out that it’s an easy way for college students, who can’t necessarily commit to meetings, to participate at any time, 24 hours a day.

TCU students have their own reasons to protest, and may of these have turned into popular Facebook groups. Parking problems seem to be a big issue with students seeing as one group has 538 members. The new dining plan and placing a cap on tuition are other major Facebook groups, with 394 and 195 members respectively. TCU students think these are important issues on campus, and can get connected with other people who feel the same way via the Internet.

However, it’s important to not let the Internet be your sole social connection with the outside world. Technology is making it so easy to never have to leave home, and it’s this ability that can lead to an increasingly isolated population. So while the Internet and Web sites are great ways to connect with people from all over the world, they should be used with caution. They cannot, and should not, replace social interactions and conversations with real people in real settings.

That said, for students, Facebook and other similar sites are a popular and easy way to show support for causes and ways of expressing your position on issues. It’s quick social networking, which is good for college students, so it only makes sense to use them to rally people behind a cause.

The next time you feel as though something is not right in your school, neighborhood, country or the world, make a Facebook group to see how many others share your view. You may be surprised.

You could make change happen.

Elizabeth Davidson is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Austin.