Miguel Costa Matos
The rationality of student activism is exquisite. Why would you spend your efforts trying to change an institution you’re going to leave after 3 years? The answer could end at – I want to see a better, different higher education system. But that seems patently insufficient. Why here? Why pressure individual Universities?
Part of the reason why I do activism is some sense of attachment to the institution you’ve attended. For all our lives, we will be Warwick graduates and so we want to see our institution do well – though not necessarily by their standards. I’d venture so far as to say that the reason we do activism is that we love Warwick.
I know some of us have some really strong feelings about Warwick’s status quo. I know some of my comrades would say that they hate Warwick. I don’t – in spite of my firm belief that there is much to be changed, I enjoyed my time here, the friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had. But whether you love or hate it (or somewhere in between), we’re united by the shared, lived experience of studying here, and of caring for this place and its improvement.
Often, those on the right accuse activists of hating the University, of wanting its demise. They are wrong. We want its transformation, into what being a University should really mean – a cohesive and inclusive community of learning and research, of collaborative inquiry and discovery.
They are afraid of reputational damage to the University. But not only is activism done in the interests of the University, it is done because it is in the interests of the University. Reputational damage is a tactic – and an effective one given the peculiarity of the University’s economic structure.
Ultimately, we are acting in the University’s interests. The University is not Nigel Thrift. It is not the ability to confer degrees. We are the University – the students and staff. Fighting for a democratic, accessible and free University is fighting in our interests, and in the interests of all those who associate themselves with Warwick now and in the future.