Politician pushes for student action

Ralph Nader, former U.S. presidential candidate, spoke at Grant Hall on Wednesday to a crowd of over 300

Image by: Alexandra Petre

For Ralph Nader, power comes in numbers.

“If one person says, ‘Who am I? I have no influence,’ nothing will get done. But, if 20 million people say this to themselves, they are not powerless,” Nader said.

Nader, an environmental advocate and former U.S. presidential candidate, spoke at Grant Hall on Wednesday night in front of a 300-person crowd.

His talk, titled “Going Green in a Corporate Climate,” touched on themes including youth empowerment, responsible citizenry, pollution and consumer protection.

The event was organized in collaboration with the School of Environmental Studies, the department of geography, the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Principal’s Office.

One resounding message was emphasized in his speech — the individual must be proactive in making change. Nader made recommendations specifically for students on how to become activists.

“One thing is to go after something you don’t like. That starts with people’s sense of injustice,” Nader told the Journal after the event. “It starts with one of two people, and then it turns into six people.”

He said universities are important because they allow students to become activists.

“It’s like the engine, because it connects with their studies, their professors,” he said. “They’re doing things on campus that are exemplary for the environment and they have their own gathering places. It’s a natural place for movements to start.”

It was in the 1960s that Nader first began to inspire young activists.

His followers, named Nader’s Raiders by the media, included students and volunteers that were actively fighting consumerism.

His 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed criticized the automotive industry and contributed to new safety legislation, such as the increased use of seatbelts.

Since then Nader has switched his focus to environmental concerns.

Nader’s speech to the Grant Hall audience focused primarily on interactions between corporations, the government and citizens.

He discussed his vision of a “corporatized citizen” — an example is someone who goes to malls more frequently than city council meetings and courts of law.

Nader argued that the most important work in society is done by citizens, not by governments and corporations, and therefore citizens should strive for change themselves.

He ended his talk with a quote from the Roman philosopher Cicero.

“Freedom is participation in power.”


Activism, ralph nader, talk

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Queen's Journal

© All rights reserved.

Back to Top
Skip to content