Thursday, February 28, 2013

Civic Disobedience

Today was like any other Thursday: I went to class, learned some things and started heading home when I stumbled upon a large gathering of people marching around city hall. It turned out to be a massive student demonstration protesting the proposed changes parliament has introduced to the higher education system. The crowd had flares, banners, megaphones and flags. The police were leading the procession, ensuring that the demonstration kept a semblance of order. They even stopped traffic at a major intersection so the crowd could cross safely. The demonstration blew my mind. Here's why:

As an American, what they were demonstrating against doesn't compute with me. Higher education is state funded and is free for anyone who wants to pursue it. If you want to go to college, you don't have to pay for it directly; it's all covered by taxes that you're parents have been paying for you up to this point. On top of that, the government pays you to go to college. The current stipend for attending college is about $1000 each month. The demonstrators were protesting a reduction of this stipend to about $800 according to what my Danish politics teacher has said. Even my Danish language teacher has said that the stipend is predominantly used to buy designer clothes and coffee. I guess it's a big deal for my Danish counterparts but I just don't get what there is to be angry about. Perhaps these demonstrators would be better utilized if we put them on a plane and sent them to the US to protest the fact that we have to pay upwards of $45000 per year to attend college; and unless you have a work study or job, you don't get paid a dime to attend. Maybe they don't realize how good they have it.

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