“Blackout” is only beginning of student response

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Editorial

It’s very rare to see such a large group of United States citizens rallying around the same cause, but SOPA and PIPA have sparked a sense of disbelief and fear for our first amendment rights that have brought people together.

Even in Bloomington-Normal, a town surrounded by corn fields, students can be seen banding together for the “Blackout” protest to object to the passage of the acts.

Seeing this awareness and reaction on campus to something with global consequences is refreshing, especially when so many students on campus are politically disengaged.

The solidarity was evident, appropriately, through many students’ Facebook profile pictures. In place of their usual cutesy, duck-face vanity pics, a red circle appended with the line, “Notice: This image has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A.” appeared on the profiles of anti-SOPA protesters. These began appearing the week of the blackout, along with the linking of all sorts of SOPA-related articles and videos.

“The more people who are made aware of and realize what the bill threatens, the better,” said junior political science major Katie Rose Brosnan. “The ‘Blackout’ protest is an event that makes people feel like they’re making a difference. And if they feel like they’re making a difference, they’re more likely to go out and make sure that they really are.”

Though becoming aware and participating is important, just refraining from using the internet for a few hours is not enough to put a halt to the passage of SOPA and PIPA.

The day after the Blackout, many students who were involved in the protest just logged back onto Facebook and continued on as usual. They never took their participation to the next step, actually seeking to become actively involved in the fight against SOPA and PIPA.

Senior Jordyn Maglalang, a member of the campus Association of Computing Machinery, believes that the majority of IWU students are misinformed and that the “blackout” protests are not far-reaching enough in their scope.

“Logging off your Facebook account is not how you convince congressmen to prevent these bills,” Maglalang said. “Instead, [people] should be writing emails, signing online petitions and participating in discussions about free speech and the unconstitutional nature of these bills.”

Though it is not reasonable to expect every student to drop everything they’re doing to start campaigning against the two acts, there are a few much more reasonable steps students can take to get more involved. Calling local representatives is an easy way to make your opinion heard, and a quick click on Google’s blackout bar will take you to a website that gives you all the contact information you’ll need. It even makes it dead simple to sign an anti-SOPA/PIPA petition.

“People oftentimes don’t think they can engage with members of their government. They feel alienated from law-making and don’t think contacting anyone will be effective,” Brosnan said. “With this in mind, it’s very tempting not to take the next step and pick up a phone, but that next step is the most critical.”