Mix of disinterest and activism on campus
By Jacob King and Ashley Summerfield
The 2016 presidential race has been one filled with bold statements, an abundance of Republican candidates, and memes of Donald Trump’s hair. Students are all privy to these pop culture renditions of the election, but what do UF students really know about politics?
A 2008 study conducted by Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) said that 64 percent of students are “uncertain and concerned” about the future of America.
The study was conducted around the time of President Obama’s oath into office. Although eight years have passed, much has not changed amongst college students’ thoughts about the future of the U.S.
“What I know is what is talked about in my family,” said Aspen Rose, junior sports and event management major.
Rose acknowledged that her knowledge of politics is limited and said that it simply isn’t a priority in her life.
“I don’t think people really make it a priority to sit down and watch (televised debates),” said Rose.
The lack of involvement and interest in politics have proved troubling to some.
“They (students) don’t care because they feel that they are just one of millions,” said Earl Streaker, junior environmental safety and occupational health major. “They have no right to complain about anything that happens in politics if they choose not to be active.”
It’s apparent that some believe that students don’t truly understand how politics affect them and their future.
“I think it’s important that we know (about politics). The people that we vote are going to be our leaders for the next four years,” said Rose.
Jon Osae-Kwapong, Ph.D., associate vice president of academic affairs emphasized how important it is for students to be informed about politics and their future.
“They (uninterested students) don’t see a direct impact on their lives as students,” said Osae-Kwapong.??
Osae-Kwapong and Rose said that students need to see the direct connection politics has on their lives and how being involved can affect them.
Osae-Kwapong said that if students can see “a very direct connection” to what politicians do, then that’s where the process of being informed can begin.
Referring to a situation at George Mason University during Obama’s presidential campaign, Osae-Kwapong said that he has seen the impact understanding politics can have on students.
“You could see the excitement of young people trying to follow politics,” said Osae-Kwapong.
Although lack of interest plays a large role, some believe the media contributes as well.
“I think social media can change what the candidates actually say. I don’t think it plays a very good role,” said Rose. “They just attack everybody in a negative way.”
Osae-Kwapong said that the media is not an entirely negative entity but understands there is a selling point to news.
“People want to get excited (about news),” said Osae-Kwapong.
With the significant presence of social media, it becomes easy to misconstrue elements of politics. Osae-Kwapong –doesn’t believe that the media should forget its duty to the public.
“The media has a role to make sure we are informed,” said Osae-Kwapong.