What do UF students really know about politics?

50 percent of students sometimes pay attention, 21 percent seldom

By Jacob King

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are well known for supplying the humor of presidential campaigns and poking fun at candidates. Past the satire, what do UF students really know about politics?

According to a Twitter poll conducted by the Pulse, a majority of UF students are sometimes paying attention to what is occurring in the presidential race.

Out of 33 participants, 29 percent said they are actively following, 50 percent said they are sometimes staying in touch, and 21 percent are seldom keeping up.

Shelby Stimmel, sophomore physical therapy and strength and conditioning double major, said that she doesn’t follow politics at the moment for many reasons- one being because the lack of truthfulness from candidates.

“Right now, a lot of them are saying what they need to say,” said Stimmel.

Although keeping up to speed with politics can be daunting, John Osae-Kwapong, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic affairs, offered advice on how to sift through and find the legitimate content.

“Don’t get your news from only one source,” said Osae-Kwapong. “There’s some key newspapers, there are key blogs, or there are key sources…”

When following political news, he said that he doesn’t just limit himself to one source and neither should students. He will follow Fox news, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and more.

Rebecka Bedard, senior political science major, said that not only is it one problem to sift through the media aspect of politics, but it’s another to make room for it in a busy life.

“I hope I’m wrong, but it seems as a whole students at UF are so consumed with their own lives to inform themselves with what’s going on in the world we live,” said Bedard.

Shannon Smiderkal, pharmacy major, admitted that politics just don’t have a substantial amount of room in her busy schedule.

“I have a very busy life and politics isn’t something I’m interested in,” said Smiderkal.

Even though to some students politics are tedious, Alisha Chesser, pharmacy major, said how as time has passed she is able to see the importance of understanding politics.

“I see it’s more important as I mature,” said Chesser. “Our generation will be running the country someday.”

Bedard stressed, not just UF students, but all students should know the significance of being informed and understand the relation to current issues/politics and the future.

“It’s our responsibility as students to be informed on what’s going on in our society and how to get involved to make a difference,” said Bedard. “If you can spend time complaining about an issue, you should be able to spend time trying to make a difference.”

Osae-Kwapong said how his past experiences with universities, like George Mason University, have allowed him to see the ways students can get involved when it comes to politics.

“For instance at George Mason, you had the college Democrats, you had college Republicans and they very regularly put on different events related to politics,” said Osae-Kwapong.

He said how organizations would draw students in by bringing speakers to campus, sending out notices and hosting voter registration drives.

“Those clubs were very active and sort of became the rallying point around which you could get students to become politically involved in things that were going on,” said Osae-Kwapong.

Engagement and involvement are important when trying to get students involved about something as strategic as politics.

Osae-Kwapong said how more activity on campus could help students discover the relationships among them, politics, and their futures.

“When you don’t have some avenue which students can participate, then it becomes very difficult to see that kind of political engagement,” said Osae- Kwapong.

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