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Freshers and returners: why now more than ever political involvement is crucial

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Universities are often considered hubs of political engagement. Here’s what you can expect to find at Stirling University if you are so inclined. Friends, memories, protests, and maybe a riot or two. Or if you aren’t politically inclined, this is part of the point.

A politicised, well-informed student body is a unit ready to tackle and mobilise when injustice, outrage, and hardship affect us most heavily.

The cost-of-living crisis, rent, rubbish accommodation, and our NHS dying a death are just some of these pressing issues that we as a group can, do, and have acted on.

Historically some of the most controversial protests and opposition to government policy have come from educational institutions, if not certainly sparked by ideas circulated amongst an excited population.

While social media can make it easy ‘engage’ in politics and though my quotation marks denote a kind of distaste for doing so, social media has the power to really connect people and organise.

Organisation is where social media thrives, with the ability to connect to many people and organise marches, and protests, to educate people about issues they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to.

However, there are many ways to become politically involved at uni, from baby beginners to politics students and beyond-hardened pros with Question Time set to record every single time.

Do not be intimidated, this is the main thing.

So many people think that because they lack context or theoretical knowledge, they shouldn’t join a society or get involved in extra-curricular activities because they can’t chime off every cabinet minister or similar.

At Stirling University, there is the Politics Society, a non-partisan society for those who enjoy discussing and chatting about politics across the political spectrum.

Too often there is a perception that it must always adhere to a particular left-wing majority, partly due to the fact there is no dedicated Conservative society at current on campus. This is not the case, and the society is welcoming to all parties (even the Tories- cheeky!) Debate. Disagree. Respectfully.

The Global Justice Society is a newer society at Stirling that “are a group of students that fight for social, economic, and environmental justice”. Their aim is to try “to tackle global and local issue and demand for a better world and a better future”. With a focus on the environment, although this is not to say other societies neglect this issue.

There is also the Stirling University Labour society and the University of Stirling Students for Independence society.

The Stirling Labour Society represents the Labour Party and supporters on campus.

The Students for Independence Society pretty much does what it says on the tin! A place for all, not strictly SNP aligned independence supporters.

I’d encourage you to go along to their Give It a Go’s as again, it’s not having politics shoved down your throat, it’s discussion and fun times to be had.

Scottish Socialist Youth Stirling (SSYS) are also a society on campus to get involved with. They are a branch on Stirling campus that organise for the wider Scottish Socialist Party.

The Stirling University Scottish Nationalists society is also a society you may wish to join, with a long history of activism at Stirling uni. The society represents the SNP party on campus.

If you want to start a society, there is the opportunity to do so- do not feel as though you cannot express your views. you can find out more here about how to start a society!

Again. Debate. Disagree. Respectfully.

For those of you who can’t wait to join a political society and are already empowered and engaged, much of the encouraging prose doesn’t apply to you- you’ll find your place here amongst your camps and find willing students with ideas to share and discussion to have.

There’s also usually loads of fun socials accompanying these societies too, and a great place for freshers to make new friends with the same political interests!

Politics and political activism is the mechanism by which we affect change in our direct lives and society.

Many of the issues people are currently experiencing can be greatly improved with organised activism, of which there are many groups across the UK doing so externally to the university. 

Politics is often thought of as far-removed from day to day despite the literal opposite being the case; because the political players are all liars, or unpopular, or people can’t ‘do politics’.

With a new PM and the UK hurtling towards a tumultuous uncertainty, now is a good time to know your rights, get involved, and fight for our future. Post COVID-19, we have observed shifts and weaknesses to our society that must be repaired, overhauled, and fixed.

Why not see if you can’t make the change you want to see in the world with your time as a student at Stirling. Or at least have a laugh at Boris Johnson hiding in a fridge that one time, or how inept Keir Starmer is.

Featured Image Credit: Rachel Swan

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