Demonstrators strip to protest funding cuts
BURNABY, B.C. (CUP) – A group of streakers stormed a crowded Simon Fraser University quad last week to protest cuts in funding to post-secondary education.
Standing in their underwear, a group of five streakers were accompanied by several clothed volunteers who held up signs and handed out pamphlets to raise awareness about provincial funding cuts.
The streakers were led by Jonathan Brockman, an at-large representative with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS).
“The main goal of this was to raise awareness and make it look fun,” Brockman said in an interview. “Advocacy doesn’t always have to be just standing around with signs and chanting. You can get naked, you can run around and do ridiculous things; it’s a fun thing, and I think students saw that. There were a lot of students who were really receptive and really positive about this.”
The group toured the school’s academic quadrangle – which was already crowded with booths for SFU’s Health and Wellness Week – handing out a total of 600 pamphlets. It took them about an hour and a half before they ran out.
Brockman said the initiative came from frustration at the lack of attention paid to post-secondary budgets on the part of the British Columbia government.
“To me, it’s just that they know they can cut post-secondary education and students don’t really vote, they don’t really care. They can cut it and no one is going to make that much of an issue about it.”
One way to be taken seriously by the government, said Brockman, is to generate student interest that would be reflected in polls.
According to Brockman, we can expect to see more streaking in the near future, as he plans for this campaign to continue into the new semester, when the next provincial budget is drafted.
“[We’re doing this] so that . . . they know students are listening and students care, and that if they don’t address the needs of students they will be held responsible. . . . I really hope we’ll be getting naked for funding again, it was fun.”