On Monday, I found myself caught inside a mismatched tug-o-war. The University of Auckland Council was meeting to vote on an increase to student fees by the statutory (and recommended) limit of 4%, and it succeeded by a majority to do so.
Of course, the decision was not going to be made without a bit of controversy and fight.
As one of two Council members elected by the students, I had a moral obligation to vote against a fee increase for domestic students. It was what everyone expected, myself included. The discussion was largely one-sided – everyone knew that the students would have something to say – but opposition was quiet because everyone had walked into that room with their decision already locked into their minds and no amount of protesting, door shaking and argument was going to change that fact.
It was disappointing to see the students being excluded from the meeting because of some impulse decisions (although a bit of blame could be said to rest on both sides). Yet I can’t help but to think about why, even against quite formidable opponents as was the case with the Occupy movement, young people never lose their energy and determination for a cause.
I knew that there was little to be done to prevent the inevitable – the best that could have been done was merely to delay – but I think what I saw in that room and outside the room was a generation that holds onto an innate sense of hope and optimism.
Maybe I just surround myself with ‘crazy’ people, but you can hardly go a day without coming across and sensing someone’s desire to create change.
I hope the young generation never lose this unifying belief in their ability to achieve change.