One Guardian journalist recently proclaimed, “I’m young, I’ve never voted and I probably never will”. A bold statement, perhaps. But a quick scan of the leading UK newspapers unveils a barrage of articles bemoaning the apparent political apathy of Generation Y. To them, we say: “British media, oh how you underestimate us!”
At York Student Think Tank (YSTT), we believe Britain’s youth have so much more to offer than passivity, and we’re on a mission to get York’s student population taking an active stance on current social issues!
A user of the popular site, thestudentroom.co.uk, recently suggested, “Politics is boring. It’s all just a bunch of middle-aged men pouring out a bunch of lies, and we have to go along with it”. It’s comments like this which the work of our society aims to counter, so that we can proudly declare: Students of York – you don’t have to go along with anything, you can engage!
We’re dedicated to addressing the things that really matter, getting people actively involved in discussing and developing policy concerning, Human Rights and Equality in the UK.
December 6 saw YSTT host the first of many panel debates between the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party societies on campus. It allowed students to witness the major parties’ chairs battle it out over their parties’ policies on social equality, given the coalition government’s recent landmark decision to raise tuition fees and abolish EMA; a move the Washington Post claims has kick started, “the most widespread university demonstrations since the Vietnam War”.
There’s never been a better time for students to begin actively participating in politics. We’d predicted the Panel Debate was going to get heated, and one glance at the twitter hashtag ‘#YSTT’ from the night, proves the success of our initial suspicions. Audience members sniping back and forth with provocative tweets such as “incentives for educating the worst off a ‘massive waste of money’, so Conservative policies not hurting the lowest earning families then”.
And we’re not stopping there. This term YSTT wades into YUSU policy. YUSU have vowed that they are determined to put “the power in your hands” regarding policy, allowing students to decide what the Student Union should do, “by suggesting, deciding upon and prioritising the Policy that guides them”. Given the uproar regarding the antics of Halifax’s football team last year, it’s clear that campus sports play a huge role in student life. Yet there is concern over UoY’s disabled student community, who are under represented in most Sport Societies – the lack of sober committee members during socials cited as just one of the factors that actively discourage disabled students from taking part.
In response, we’ve decided to take YUSU up on their offer and – through applying to join our consultation team – we’re bringing students the unique opportunity to produce a report on the role of disabled students in sport societies that will directly influence YUSU policy.
We’re also now taking entries for our annual journal, composed of articles submitted in accordance with this year’s theme of ‘Human Rights & Equality’. So if you don’t get a chance to join the consultation team, you can still have your opinionated (and well-researched!) say in our journal.
Submitting an article is an excellent chance to expand your research skills, develop your essay-writing prowess, and it’s a great addition to any CV that employers value. Furthermore, the writer of the best article will receive a week’s internship at the London office of the Institute for Public Policy Research. If that’s not motivation enough to get you writing, we don’t know what is! We’re inviting everybody, regardless of your degree subject or experience, to get involved and submit an article – so if you’ve got something to say about ‘Human Rights & Equality’, we want to hear it.
You can keep up to date with all our upcoming policy labs and events on Facebook, or by following us on Twitter. What’s more, we’re always looking for new, enthusiastic members so if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, we have just one question: when can you start?