“You know it’s bad when it’s protested in St Andrews.”
Out of all the slogans, cheers, and rage-filled sentiments that pervaded throughout the anti-Muslim Ban march a few weeks ago, that was the one that stuck. The protest had been incredible – St Andreans from town and badlands alike had shook themselves out of their typical week-long hangover and gone to the streets. But this protest was an anomaly, one that is still talked about even though Trump and his disciples have put forward a myriad of new rights-violating bills since then.
It’s almost enough for me to spend weekends travelling to Edinburgh protests. To be able to stand with likeminded people and carve out a space that feels entirely dedicated to causes I believe in. But there was something about finally having a protest so close to a place that felt like home that was different. A place where people are content to live in a Bubble, in the safety of a town that is pushed to the very edge of Scotland. It’s almost too easy to close your eyes and relax into the idea that your actions have no impact, because that idea is comforting.
We will never accomplish anything if we continue to look for individuals in the media to guide us. If we look at protests in the past and believe that these leaders and martyrs are all that is needed to accomplish anything. We use phrases surrounding these figures such as “radiating charisma” and “inspiring crowds,” but oftentimes we forget about the crowd of people standing below the speaker. We can forget the significance of millions of bodies pressed against each other in the cold, that become anonymous, but, because of their quantity, provide the most impact.
While we have had heroes in the aftermath of the election, I’ve felt like the idea of following individuals with an amalgamation of complex ideologies has softened. We’ve taken on a common enemy, forming alliances between extreme anti-fascists, and people who just want to understand the other side.
St Andrews Stands United is an organisation that has formed since the march with the intention of organising students to make a change here in the UK, as well as abroad. It exists as a mechanism of politicising St Andrews, and uses its page to fundraise, write petitions and organise events / protests around St Andrews. The march was the first indication of all that St Andrews has the potential to be, and SASU aims to tap into the mindset of positive change in but also outside the bubble.
It is high time for the Bubble to burst, and SASU provides the means for the students to establish a connection to the world outside of St Andrews while studying here. This is a time of impossible turmoil, and to remain stagnant benefits no one. Change increases its significance when even an eclectic mix of young people, with a history of tradition and conservative behaviour, decide to reenter the reality of the world around us.