You will remember at the end of last month that I posted this quick thing about paperchase and stationery? I rushed through my anger to write it at the time, so it’s not my best piece in the world, but I have a story to tell. And this one is much more positive!
On June 3rd, I attended my Guild of Students Awards for the second year in a row. Last year, Debating (my baby!) was nominated for Best Large Society and I was so super pleased, but unfortunately we lost out on the night. I vowed to come back with a vengeance, encouraging lots of members to nominate us this year, but when the nominations came out, I was surprised to see we hadn’t made the shortlist (which I am told is largely doctored by a group of staff and sabbatical officers at my Guild…). What had made the shortlist however, was me, for Best Activist.
This year, I’ve really ramped up my enthusiasm for activism, organising a protest against the student debt sell off, and making an effort to co-ordinate a latter week of action. I’ve run for a sabbatical position, I’ve organised a campaign. And I even attended my first protest, the NHS March in Manchester (while the boyf was inside the same Tory Conference that it was protesting outside haha). If the area where I devoted the majority of my effort (debating!) wasn’t rewarded, I was pleased that something else could be.
Unfortunately, I returned home from the ceremony (after a very lengthy and boozy night out…) empty handed again, with the award going to someone as deserving from the Friends of Palestine Society. But just a few days later (admittedly a bit late to the bandwagon, because the tweet was sent the same day as the ceremony), I discovered the brilliant news (with help from the wonderful LetToysBeToys who did some really great promotion on my petition) that with less than 100 signatures, Paperchase had agreed to remove the item from sale.
This is the first time I’ve ever been part of a winning campaign, and it was great that it was especially one that came from my own efforts. And it certainly sweetened the pill of losing again.
But the thing is – I realised that it was never about winning an award. What is important is making effective change and that is something I have done. Through a bit of online activism, that didn’t need to escalate very far at all, I’ve contributed to creating a better society. Any one who is an activist, no matter whether it’s online or offline, to me is the Best Activist. Because as a result of our actions, the best we can hope for is a changed and better world.
That is a really great ending sentence there, and I hate to spoil it, but I do want to add that this time I have checked Paperchase have been true to their word and indeed, I spotted the item in sale a few days ago. I’m not all that pleased that they are still making profits out of the harmful genderisation of toys, but if they’ll never do it again, I’m happy.