Laura Coryton, a recent graduate and passionate activist, spoke to Wessex Scene about her campaign to end tampon tax, which is entitled ‘Stop Taxing Periods. Period’ on change.org. Having begun her campaign as a student, Laura has gained role-model status for students everywhere who want to make a difference, starting at university and venturing outwards.
Laura’s story is a simple one. Having heard about tampon tax from a friend in 2014, Laura, who labels herself as ‘unashamedly a feminist’, was outraged and took to the world wide web to share her concern; more specifically, she created an online petition from the safety of her own bedroom.
Using Laura as an example of successful student activism, here are 6 steps to becoming a student activist and actually make a difference.
- At 300,000 signatures, Laura’s petition is one of the most popular out there, largely because it touches on such a taboo topic. It’s also part of the wider feminist cause. When you think of something you want to make a difference to, pick a specific cause and create an online petition. Then share it as much as possible.
- As tampon tax is such a taboo topic, papers love it. Laura has written for a spectrum of publications from The Telegraph to Marie Claire. You can start with the Wessex Scene and then pitch to other publications. The more taboo the topic, the more interested publications will be.
- Use your university. Laura not only just used her student status for cheap printing of posters and leaflets, but she spoke to her SU at Goldsmiths University in London and they helped her to halve the price of tampons in the student shop. This is a great example of how you can start small and branch out. One achievement leads to another.
- Get off the computer and out onto the streets. Laura protested up and down the country and even delivered her petition straight to Downing Street. She managed to lower prices of sanitary products in tens of universities around the UK and forced George Osborne into donating all of the money he collects annually from tampon tax to charity. By taking to the streets, you can capture the attention of the people who hold the power.
- Utilise your social media. Laura has used her Twitter account to spread the word about her campaign and so can you. Social media is the fastest way to get your message out there. Expand your campaign’s online presence and you’ll enlist supporters in no time just by having an existing page.
- Email Laura at email@example.com. If you need any help getting started, Laura has advised that you email her to get some tips or simply to discuss your cause. Even if you’re not entirely sure, it’s always worth asking and getting some invaluable advice.
Whatever cause you’re passionate about, whether it’s feminism, animal testing, rights for refugees – you name it – you can always do something about it. You can make changes, and you can make a difference. Being a student in no way limits your power; if anything, Laura has proved being a student positively affects campaigning.
So, why not try?