One from the archive… Let’s bring the 1960s back

~Originally printed in UCLan Pluto in March 2010~

Whether it be the sharp suited advertising executives of Mad Men, teenage heartbreak in the Oscar nominated An Education or the diffusion of sixties style to the British high street, the 1960s are back and about time too.

But what did the 1960s achieve and what can we still learn from them?

In the early 1960s when mainstream culture was still clinging to the American Dream ideals of the 1950s a new counter-culture was simmering underneath.  The history books are filled with iconic images of rebellion and defiance.

Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, revolution in South America, women’s rights and the sexual revolution, Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner.  Loud, passionate voices made themselves heard and changed culture and political thought.

The soldiers of these new revolutions were university students.  Students who gave a crap, not just about themselves and their interests, but the rights and causes of others.

It was extremely warming to see how many fellow UCLan students turned up to Town Takeover to protest against higher fees.  But as much as that cause is important it’s also a selfish cause.

How many of you have been annoyed or aggrieved by something only to vent it on facebook instead of doing something about it?  I know I’m certainly guilty of it.

Blame is often attributed to the political climate.  Apparently politicians don’t speak to younger people. Westminster is filled with boring suits talking about boring things. But I guess everything is going ok?

To the women reading this, are you happy to accept that you will earn significantly less for the same job as a man?  Muslim students are you happy to live in a country where fear and misconception about your religion is increasing?

The politicians don’t speak to us argument is a complete cop-out.  Politicians are very keen to speak to students, for the first time in your life you have a vote and it’s something they want from you. What’s not happening is students speaking to politicians.

In 1961, President John F Kennedy said in his inauguration speech the most famous and salient quote from that decade: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Don’t think you’re being represented at the university? Make some noise about it.  The Student Council positions in the SU elections were all uncontested with one candidate standing for each position.  The Student Council is an important part of the politics of the Students’ Union.  They’re charged with representing us to the elected officers of the Student Affairs Committee.

This might be the only opportunity in your entire life to speak so loudly and directly influence the things that affect you. You don’t have to accept things as they are.

Let’s bring the 1960s back to UCLan.

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