“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle
According to Arthur Levine, author of “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student,” a staggering 68 percent of college students are not politically active or engaged. Although I do not consider myself particularly politically savvy by any means, I am confident that I am not part of this statistic, at least not anymore.
Many of my friends did not vote in this year’s presidential election, but that did not stop them from participating in protests and rallies and posting pictures and hashtags on social media when they were not happy with the results. Some couldn’t even be bothered to watch the three presidential debates.
Going further, many of my peers lack any sort of awareness regarding local or congressional elections. Do you know what number congressional district this is? Do you know who John Faso is?
It appears many college students jump on bandwagons for certain candidates like Zephyr Teachout or Bernie Sanders without much knowledge of their specific policies or ideals. How many students participate in politics simply because it’s trendy? I don’t know the answer to that, but I fear that it is more than we would like to admit.
Here is what I will admit: until very recently I would have considered myself to be a part of that 68 percent.
Digging deeper, I realize that I probably would not have even the limited knowledge that I do without this newspaper. My staff demands at least a basic political inclination and awareness in order to participate in editorial discussions as the pieces we publish in our opinion section are meant to represent the views of everyone on staff.
Namely my managing editor, Jack O’Brien, is incredibly knowledgeable about politics and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had to listen to his views. I respect his knowledge and analysis very much and my conversations with him have very much influenced me to educate myself about the world of politics nationally, internationally and directly around me. But don’t tell him I said that.
My section editor Melanie Zerah and fellow copy editor Jackson Shrout have also played a part in my increased interest in politics. Mel requires this knowledge in order for me to work with and for her to the best of my ability and I have developed a friendship with Jackson in which we can have these intelligent conversations.
Many of my fellow Oracle members are equally intelligent and part of such conversations, the ones highlighted are simply those who have had the greatest impact on me and I thank you all for the influence you have had.
The 2016 presidential election elicited some of the most extreme emotional responses that I have seen in response to any major political event in my lifetime. Opinions aside, it has most definitely evoked powerful emotions in me.
I accept responsibility for my part in the decision we have made as a country. Although I was decently educated about the two candidates, I will admit that a lot of that was due to underlying pressure I created in my mind as a result of working with such intelligent individuals.
Sure, I developed my own views and opinions and I watched all three of the presidential debates. Albeit a lot of my opinions were formed from the information that was put in front of my face, not information that I was willing to seek out on my own accord.
The results of this election shocked me and opened my eyes to where we really are as an American people. Throughout the course of this election, I rode on the coattails of my staff members and what became a little above basic awareness; I heard things, but I wasn’t really listening.
Well, I’m listening now.