Let’s talk politics: Why college students must start to care a little bit more

By Sarah Stubbs

If you haven’t seen the hilarious SNL skit about how Adele has the capability to save a Thanksgiving dinner, you must watch it.

In the skit, family members banter back and forth about the controversial issues being debated by the 2016 presidential hopefuls every couple of weeks on TV. Some of the comments get a little offensive and extremely specific, but they’re all remedied with a little “Hello from the other side…”

All jokes aside, this is what many of us went through while we were home for our brief winter break – minus the helpful Adele interruptions (most likely).

From my observations, a modern-day college student will often proclaim “I’m not really into politics” and keep his or her nose buried in the books – focusing on his or her studies rather than what’s going on in the world – only looking up when Trump says something ridiculous.

However, historically, much of the political activism that helped create real change in our country was initiated by college students and demonstrated on campuses nationwide.

Where has that activism gone?

Granted, there is no draft going on right now, but our country (and the world in general) is faced with serious decisions to make on important issues: mass shootings and gun control, police brutality and race, prison reform, global warming, reproductive rights, and more. The list goes on and on.

I’m afraid that most of us went home, sat in our living rooms or around our dining room tables, and half-listened to the comments made by our relatives and friends about the 2016 Presidential race while we thumbed the screens of our smartphones.

Young twenty-somethings are so addicted to their smartphones and their own paths that they fail to recognize how important it is to pay attention and be involved with the world around them and especially this political race.

I was chatting with friends the other day about how it makes me nervous that I feel like I am more informed than the average bear my age (I know, unfair advantage because I’m a journalism major. I’m kind of forced to be informed if I want to do well in my major and career of choice) because there is so much that I still do not understand about the issues being discussed by the candidates. I do my best to stay on top of the political news and read material from both ends of the spectrum, but I am still unsure about where I stand on many of these serious, pressing issues.

Last semester, I wrote a news story about political awareness and activism on campus. After chatting with former College Republican Chairwoman Rebecka Berdard, I discovered that I’m not alone in my observations.

Following that story, in our last Pulse issue of the Fall 2015 semester, we wrote about the non-existent club, UF College Democrats, and what its absence means for political competency and opportunities on campus.

Now, I know that it’s easier to say that we wished an opportunity existed than it is to take initiative to create that opportunity ourselves. But change often starts small – with critical thinking and conversation.

I don’t think that UF is alone in its lack of student activism or self-centered thinking. It’s generational. We all get caught up in achieving our dreams and accomplishing the tasks on our to-do lists that we forget to spend time thinking about the big-picture issues facing all of us. This isn’t necessarily our fault. We grew up this way. We are all under a lot of pressure to do well at whatever it is we do, so we often just focus on that.

I’m not trying to say that there aren’t any college students or millennials who care – because there are. We just need to be more vocal about it. We need to try to start productive conversations about these hot-button issues and we need to listen more than we speak so that we can begin to have our own opinions.

I hope that our past and upcoming political coverage in the Pulse will begin to inform and inspire students to get invested in this important political race. A good place to start is on page seven where Pulse staffer Ashley Summerfield provides a political debate update for any Oiler who might have fallen behind.

In the meantime, follow a few news sites on Twitter and Facebook. Turn on the debates while you’re eating dinner. Get online and research each candidate’s track record or better yet, the issues themselves. Try to see things from both ends of the spectrum. Who knows? Maybe you will be inspired and become passionate about something that might just make the world a better place.

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