Kate Essig – Activism Or Slacktivism? How Social Media Hurts And Helps Student Activism

On Oct. 1, 1964, hundreds of University of California-Berkeley students surrounded a police car to protest the arrest of a student. Students stood on top of the car to deliver speeches and sing, “We Shall Overcome,” to a crowd that grew to include roughly two thousand students.

Years later, on Nov. 21, 2013, students gathered in Saint Louis University’s student union for “The State of St. Louis,” an event planned by a SLU’s Political Roundtable. Students sat around tables instead of standing on cars, but that’s not the only difference between student activism today and the sit-ins of the past. Student activists today can use social media to promote their organizations online.

While Political Roundtable has 126 supporters on Facebook, roughly 30 students attended their event. Their absence could be attributed to studying for tests or having another commitment, but it could be because of a different phenomenon: slacktivism.

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