As young people, we are facing numerous threats to our future
This is a very timely report that can help us to further understand the views of young people across the UK. As young people, we are facing numerous threats to our future, with a climate emergency already taking the lives and livelihoods of our siblings in the global South and threatening to destroy all of our lives, Brexit continues to legitimate the scapegoating of Black, brown, and migrant communities and seeks to further the destruction of the hostile environment, and – on the horizon – an impending recession that will leave many of us unemployed.
Once again, we have been let down by our political leaders throughout this pandemic and so it is not surprising that many are pessimistic about how coronavirus will affect their future. Students have been particularly hard hit with many losing employment, being forced to pay for accommodation that they no longer need and not receiving the quality education they require. Looking ahead, young people continue to inherit a system where universities are run as businesses, not education providers, prioritising the huge salaries of Vice Chancellors, whilst students and workers struggle to make ends meet. In the here and now, the government must act and introduce a student safety net to protect all students but we must also see an end to the failed project of marketisation.
It should be deeply troubling that most young people feel disconnected from the political system and feel that those in power do not care to represent them. Our political system is built on representation, yet it is clearly not working if the views of young people are not being heard. Politicians, of all stripes, must do more to reach out to young people and ensure that they are being listened to and incorporated into the decision-making process.
We must recognise that our society and our institutions are a product of racism, anti-Blackness and white supremacy. The fact this report shows that young people are accessing extreme content online, think political violence is acceptable and are more likely to believe conspiracy theory rooted in racism, anti-immigration rhetoric, antisemitism and Islamophobia should act as a wake-up call. We need action now to uproot the injustices around us and rebuild our society, free from the historical systems of oppression on which it is currently stands.
Larissa Kennedy is president of the National Union of Students