Look, keeping politically active is a hard sell when there seems to be a new WWIII-causing event plastered over the news every week, but hear me out. It is hard to follow the actions of politicians who are far removed from the outcome of their policies, nobody expects Simon Harris to understand what it’s like to have the hardship fund cut in half, or for Hildegard Naughton to understand how the state actively undermines efforts to combat addiction.
But students are nearly always on the chopping block of government policy, it is students who suffer high rents and low pay, it is students who keep the rotting corpse of the service industry animated, and it is students who are forced to leave Ireland due to government failures. If it is us who suffer the most because of government policy, then why shouldn’t we be the most aware of it?
Being aware of the decisions that affect you is important; if you know that the budget is coming up then you can lobby the members of your SU, or the USI, or even your local TD. If you know that there will be a giveaway budget, you can be a part of the effort to leverage a better deal for yourself and your peers. One voice alone is easily drowned out, but many voices shouting in choral unison is impossible to ignore.
There was a time when every political party had large followings on university campuses, there was a time when the SU council had well over a hundred attending class reps ready to argue about the future of the union. Nowadays we suffer in silence, apathy has infected us because the sheer mental strength required to follow politics is not there anymore. We are tired, we are broke, and we are stuck between eating or studying. That’s why it’s vital to know who your TD is, which way they vote, and what they believe.
There are thousands of students in Galway who could easily make the difference in a general election, and there is nothing scarier to a TD than losing their seat, their power, and their privileges. You don’t have to support a party to be a part of something bigger than yourself, party politics put us here, it is hard to see how it will help us get out of the economic hole our generation is buried in. So, get out there and be aware of who wants to cut your SUSI, or raise your taxes, or who tries to cut student hardship funds (Spoiler, it was Fine Gael). It could be the start of the change you want to see.