When it came to light that CSU athletic officials scrapped the Fum’s Song video from football games, students didn’t amass to voice their grievances in an office or bear signs on The Oval.
They Facebooked their anger.
And Kyle Bell, star junior running back, led the charge.
“I was just sending it to a couple hundred people on my friend list, and I really didn’t think it would catch on that fast,” Bell said. “I was hoping it would spread but I didn’t really think it would that quickly.”
On www.facebook.com, Bell started a networking group called, “They banned ‘Fum’s Song’ at football games…screw it we’ll sing it anyway.”
That was on Saturday night.
By Monday, nearly 1,400 students had joined Bell to fume about the change.
“That’s just amazing, those numbers,” said Jamie Switzer, an assistant professor of technical journalism and an online media specialist. “I think what it does is just shows the power of those social networking sites (and) this kind of word-of-mouth, or ‘viral’ marketing.”
The Internet provides more quick and convenient means to communicate, allowing people to learn information and efficiently coordinate action – sometimes pranks.
Switzer gave an example: Flash mobbing, she called it.
A bunch of Web users who’ve never met each other plan, over instant messages, to meet at a certain time and place. Then it happens.
A furniture store suddenly floods with dozens of people. They simultaneously sit in all of the chairs and couches. After a while, they all leave together.
The use of a social networking site, like www.myspace.com or www.facebook.com, to coordinate any kind of movement or stunt is a new phenomenon, Switzer said. But in the past few years the Internet’s role in activism has exploded.
“In the last presidential election, the (Howard) Dean campaign was very much an online grassroots campaign in the beginning,” Switzer said. “I think clicking a button is a way to mobilize people. I don’t know how effective in and of itself it is at effecting the change – I think you have to take it to the next level. But it’s certainly a way to get started and get organized.”
Associated Students of CSU, the student government, may hold an emergency session to enact legislation supporting Fum’s Song, said ASCSU senator Stacey Smith. Someone contacted Kyle Bell about printing T-shirts for the movement.
On Monday, Bell called the whole episode crazy, saying he didn’t think it would go as far as it has. He encouraged students to sing the song between the third and fourth quarters during this year’s football games.
But he said he doesn’t want a student insurrection.
Political science professor John Straayer said this Fum fiasco doesn’t exactly illustrate a revolution in student activism.
When it comes to politics, most students since the late 1960s “are between docile and clueless,” he said.
“You’ve got the star running back on the fight song, so you get 1,200 responses or 1,300,” he said. “What if the quarterback said that he wants them to join him in protesting the Iraq War?”
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