‘The Big Picture’

“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

 It’s really hard to get people to see the big picture sometimes. I spend a lot of my time in my many different roles, part time employment, elected positions locally and nationally, home life and even just online, experiencing both blood boiling anger and heartbreaking disappointment at peoples disregard for really important issues.

Now granted I meet tons of students, officers, activists and regular every day people who engage at all different levels and care in some shape or form, and that is really inspiring and keeps me sane! However the amount of people I meet on a day to day basis, who just don’t care or don’t get why these issues are important is just staggering.

Now for me Education is the biggy, I believe its not something we can look at in isolation though time and time again we find people only concerned with ‘what has this got to do with me’. This needs to stop. While it is understandable that people are concerned about themselves (it is a survival thing I get that). We cannot view Heriot-watt issues in a bubble and we certainly can’t view aspects of education in one either. So Further education like colleges and higher education like universities, even secondary education like High schools should not be viewed as separate, they are all interlinked and a change in one can have a massive impact on the others.

You only have to look just south of the border to see that fluctuations in their education system can have a massive impact on us too. This year will be the first round of ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ students entering the doors of universities, many universities are now trying to figure out how they will need to adapt to accommodate a very different type of student. So when cuts to colleges happen, we can’t claim ignorance that;
‘It doesn’t affect me, cuts have to happen somewhere’ or even worse; ‘You are a uni student, why are you wasting your time on this?’

I don’t believe we should only be serving the students of the present; we have a duty to protect our future students, the students yet to come and our future generation. We should be protecting opportunities for access to higher education. Cuts to colleges may not seem like it affects you, or changes our campus – but it does. In the long run, a student who can’t make it into college because of devastating cuts won’t ever make it onto our campus. The student, who doesn’t receive the same quality of education, is then a student who will be asked to repeat years of study unnecessarily at their own expense.

This isn’t just about cuts or protecting education (though that is REALLLLLLY IMPORTANT). It is about realising that we don’t live in a bubble. Heriot-Watt doesn’t live in a bubble, whether it’s UKBA revoking visas for international students or Theresa May trying to rip up your human rights (and civil liberties for that matter too). These issues impact you and your friends, in some way, shape or form. It’s not good enough to shrug our shoulders and bury our heads in the sand.

There is hope though, I have had the pleasure to work with some amazing people, who go out there and slog their guts out to tell you about the issues that matter, that will campaign, blister their feet and make themselves ill fighting for something bigger than them. Oh so desperate to educate and engage, even if you don’t agree with them, they want nothing more for you to take an interest and stand up for something. They want to create as many active, informed citizens as they can with a voice and will to use it. That is the sort of thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

The jaded cynics among you will claim I’m fighting a battle I can’t possibly win, I disagree, but it isn’t always about the end outcome of politicians’ votes or the policy passed. This is bigger than that, it is about winning hearts and minds,  standing up for what you believe in, and if all I achieve at the end of my time as an officer is making one students life better, or getting someone that bit more involved, then I will walk away with my head held high.

So next time you see me banging on about something on Facebook or see someone with a cause or petition, with passion burning in their eyes. Don’t be so quick to shrug your shoulders and tell them it doesn’t affect you because on some level, we are all connected through our education, it all matters, and you are not an island.


Conor Murray-Gauld

Heriot-Watt Executive for campaigns

NUS Scotland Education Campaign Convenor





~ by conorstrife on March 13, 2013.

2 Responses to “‘The Big Picture’”

  1. A nice system thinking approach!!

    • I have been amazed how much of my degree has impacted my look at my local/national politics, and vice versa. Pretty awesome and gives me a really unique look things.

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