Opinion: Purpose of Protest


By Sloan Marion, @SketchingBear

The biggest question I saw Monday on social media and on campus tied to the idea of what was the purpose of the May 2 protests were. With all the different ideas being thrown at you — racism, sexism and student loan debt, just to name a few — it does seem random.

“Is it just me or is the SIU protest like all over the place?” tweeted user @Rickkslick. Others complained of the lack of order. 

Without much thought, the protest appeared to be chaotic and sporadic as far as the topics that were concerned. However, in my eyes, this was to be expected. 


During the protest I stood in the middle of the crowd noticing the reaction from each other crowd member. Surrounded by people I never saw on campus, I couldn’t help but notice the purpose of the protest: unity. 

MORE: Best photos of the protests

The protest provided an unofficial forum for students to express their issues and concerns about the university to a crowd of people who wanted to listen. Each person that spoke had a very personal approach, allowing each speech to be vastly different. 

The idea of the protest appeared with the ever-growing wait for the state budget to be passed. Student and faculty are fearing job loss and program cutting.

However, as time passed, a YouTube video titled “SIUC White is Right” surfaced containing racial slurs and threats to black students on campus. This riled up a lot of minority students, adding to the racial tension on campus.

MORE: Students gather to stress peace amid tension

This lead to the May 2 strike becoming less about the state budget and debt and more about racial issues on campus. During the demonstration both issues were addressed, opening the gate to discussion about many more problems. 


“This protest shit at SIU is so stupid. They don’t even know what they are protesting, one video a guy talked about cars and then animals.” posted by Twitter user @SethSmith3.

So many ideas were thrown from the discussion of white privilege and institutional racism, to the lack of representation of Native Americans on campus and lack of response from the school on women’s abuse issues. 

I don’t think people expect the issues explained to be fixed in a week or so, but they are just happy to be heard and taken seriously. 

Many students claim to not have a voice on the issues that affect them and this protest provided them with said voice. Just because something isn’t prepared on a platter for you eat, doesn’t mean it isn’t food.

The protest had a definite purpose. Students and faculty united to express their personal opinions in the first steps to making campus more inclusive and welcoming to all students.

Sloan Marion can be reached at [email protected]