Week 6 Blog Post

Last October, students in South Africa were faced with rising tuition fees. As a result, they began the #FeesMustFall campaign. According to eyewitness news, Wits University proposed a 10.5% increase in tuition and fees. The inflation rate last year was only around six percent. Protests followed a three-day student lock-down of the University of Witwatersrand campus. Although the protests were focused on a rise in fees, a number of factors formed the background for the protests from a lack of funding for poorer students to attend universities, high incomes for university managers, a real decline in government funding for higher education, and lack of social transformation to broader socio-economic and racial inequality issues.
The #FeesMustFall activists utilize nonviolent techniques to influence administrators and government officials to decrease tuition fees. When students learned that their tuition would increase by 10.3 percent, they began protesting and occupying administrative buildings demanding to not only prevent the increase but to lower fees from their original prices. Students and parents argued that fees were not affordable for poorer black students in South Africa.
The hashtag is utilized in this movement. Just as mentioned above, protesters held up signs that read ‘#FeesMustFall’ or simply stated the words without the hashtag. Some images contain people crossing their arms with tightened fist. If this movement turns violent, I can imagine it becoming a national crisis. While we try not to intervene in another country’s issues, the mistreatment and injury of students may create national and global outcries. While the United States is already fostering social movements centered on the cruel treatment of black people, this movement turning violent could possibly intensify the animosity on a global scale. This could create political issues as well seeing that police would also be involved in this case of injustice.
This campaign could set the bar for universities across the globe, especially the US. Tuition fees are steadily rising, making it more difficult for poorer individuals to gain access to higher education. Although grants and loans are available, they are not always sufficient.


3 thoughts on “Week 6 Blog Post

  1. Response B
    The South African use of a hashtag, #FeesMustFall, to unify protesters against rising tuition is a form of non-violent protest that has recently become prominent in all social movements. The utilization of internet hash tags has proved to be a successful way of making a protests ideologies heard by larger audiences, as well as providing in sense a code word, or short phrase, allowing for easier networking and communication of protesters. Hashtags are an internet meta data tagging system that allow users to easily search specific topics and communicate with others who are speaking on the topic. This is an important tool for protesters, if enough people talk about the hashtag it will trend pushing it into the international spotlight. In the U.S., the movement to reform policing has been defined by the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. In 2011, Egypt’s revolution was fueled by Twitter even when the government shutdown the internet the hashtag was already out. This allowed for the spread of the movements ideas even when they were blocked from communication with the rest of the world.

  2. Response 2/3

    Another social movement that utilized the #hashtag activism and symbolism to unify members in non-violent protest was the 2014 #UmbrellaRevolution or #OccupyCentral in Hong Kong. In 2014 Hong Kong students and primarily young adults protested for more political freedom, full democracy, and called for the resignment of chief executive Leung Chun-ying. Protestors held nonviolent sit-ins but were met with heavy handed police presence and many were pepper-sprayed and arrested. As a result protestors began to carry umbrellas at the sit-ins to shield themselves from pepper spray, thus creating a symbol and hashtag movement: #umbrellarevolution. Many protestors also used this hashtag to document their experience on social media, spreading the word and united people around the world, mobilizing them to a united cause. I think a common theme for using social media to mobilize members of a social movement is to spread the word on such a wide scale that it has the potential to attract international attention. By doing this I also believe there is more pressure for protestors to remain non-violent while the eyes of the world watch their demonstrations unfold. Non-violent approaches are met with empathy and have more potential to touch sympathizers to a cause.

  3. Utilizing social media/technology as a method of non-violent protesting is one of the more commonly used methods for all social movements in this day and age. This has been used in many social movements in the last decade as a means of a non-violent approach to create the social change being sought out. Before the internet and computers became the norm, spreading awareness of various topics/events wasn’t as easily accomplished as it is today. We have the worlds most powerful communication tool at the tips of our fingers-literally. This makes it easy to spread our voices and knowledge to people all over the world; it connects us with everyone instantly. This concept has allowed numerous social movements since to really get acknowledged and notice from people who wouldn’t of been able to without technology. Of course, Twitter has the ever so famous “hashtag” which allows all users to enter a word or phrase after the hashtag, linking their post to every other post with the same hash tag. So, by creating a hashtag for your social movement, you’re allowing people from all over to get in on the action, and watch it spread like wildfire.

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