Protest Graphic

The rising trend of protests at Purdue and across the country has caused the media and citizens alike to question their effectiveness.

But rallies do work as they incite citizens to take political action.

The article “Why Street Protests Don’t Work” from The Atlantic explains how demonstrations are not influential because policy change is often not implemented immediately, which reflects a rising trend of doubt concerning their power. However, there are numerous reasons why policy change is often not instant, and rallies are still effective because they energize citizens. This energy is then transferred into political action, which can be seen numerous times throughout U.S. history.

For instance, voters in 2016 were motivated by demonstrations like the Black Lives Matter march and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. According to, 60 percent of Americans voted in the 2016 election — an all time high in recent years.

But why did 40 percent of citizens still not vote?

The Pew Research Center wrote that “a ‘dislike of the candidates or campaign issues’” was the most common reason, not voter apathy.

According to the same article, the number of people who claimed they were too busy to vote decreased “from 19 percent in 2012 to 14 percent.”

These two statistics could be due to other factors, but the fact that they coincide with a rise in protest popularity should be considered.

This active-voter sentiment can also be seen at Purdue, where political clubs have seen an increase in activity within recent years. Alan Min, a junior in the College of Science and former communications director of Purdue College Democrats, said through email that the club typically only sees an increase in involvement during election years.

Despite this, the club’s 2017 callout actually had more students attend than its callout in 2016. This reflects a nationwide trend of Americans becoming more politically involved.

And during the 2000s, about 52 percent of Americans exercised their right to vote, according to Within recent years, this figure has grown by roughly 8 percent.

This correlates with the growing number of protests occurring yearly and shows the rising intent of all citizens in political activities.

Protests may not spur instant change, but they are far from useless and should not be discounted as pointless poster rhetoric.

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