In a recent survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 33.9 percent of students said that “keeping up to date with political affairs,” is important to them.
What makes this appalling rate even worse is that this number is the highest in a decade, according to the article. This pitiful student interest only reflects the general apathy of Americans concerning politics. In the closest presidential election since 1876, only 51 percent of Americans made the effort to vote in 2000, according to the Center for Voting and Democracy.
A week ago, I watched more than 250 UTD students walk past Texas Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, who chose not to take their turn to speak and have their voice heard.
From conversations with students on campus, it is clear to me that students feel isolated.
We do not feel most of the forces at work in America.
We are not going to go back to elementary school, so we do not care about testing standards in Texas. Why should we care that farms along the Rio Grande do not get enough water?
The two most immediate issues for college students are tuition and taxes; the two most immediate governmental issues that is. And even those two fall far behind Friday night’s clubbing escapades.
When UTD brings lawmakers to campus, we have an opportunity to meet interesting and influential people who make laws that actually affect our lives.
I understand that there are people who do not want to join a fraternity, get involved on the campus paper or in student government.
I understand that most students who went to Shapleigh’s presentation made the initial effort because they were required to attend, or received extra credit in a government class.
But at a certain point, I cease to understand.
I do not understand why no more than 20 students stayed to talk to a Texas legislator personally, regardless of political affiliation.
I don’t think that 250 people out of the 300 who attended the presentation had class the next period, or could not spare 15 minutes to let their voices be heard.
Students have so isolated themselves from the real issues and the process of government, that all we do is sit around our apartments and complain.
Too few went and told Shapleigh that they felt tuition deregulation was justified or unjustified.
Too few people cared enough to make their complaints audible to ears that can make a difference.
It is now too late to speak to Shapleigh, but there will be more opportunities to meet people who have a voice in our government.
It is not too late to speak to them.
So find something you care about and get your voice heard.