Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Political Activism on College Campuses

The Christian Science Monitor has a great article called "The New Activism" which talks about the modern political activism on college and university campuses in the United States. I think this article hits on a couple good points. First, "While rallies may abound, don't be deceived, say some campus denizens. 'Activism' today doesn't even remotely resemble the white-hot political passion that gripped college campuses in the 1960s and '70s." While I was not alive during the 60's or the 70's from what I've seen, read, and discussed with those who where alive and active during that time it is clear to me that the ideals meant a little more back in the 60's and 70's. I am sure there are still some of the same types of students, but from what I have experienced so many students would rather go to class, go watch tv, or go to a football game than participate in any "activism", even in the most loose sense of the word.

A second good point is "But there are also students today for whom activism means something far removed from either the debate between left and right or the war in Iraq.
Dihan Thilakaratne, a senior and chemistry major at North Texas University, says he joined a student rally when the cause was one with relevance to his life: a protest against a 7 percent hike in tuition fees." I think that some of the reasons people are more likely to protest something that directly impacts them are more selfish (not necessarily wrong). Many of the parents of the average college students are the members of the "me" generation. These are not the parents who protested against Vietnam and fought for civil rights. These parents are the people who were teenagers when MTV debuted. There is a very different attitude among these people. Grandparents of these students are not the people who lived through the "Great Depression" rather, the Grandparents where the ones who lived during the termoil. It seems as if the youth of today are becoming so far removed from the past. I think it is inevitable, but I also think that the American culture of today has a lot to do with it. The mainstream media talks more about Jessica Simpson than they do about the outsourcing of American jobs. The mainstream media makes a bigger deal of Oprah having jury duty than they do of the ineffectual capital punishment system. We are not being reminded of our history. We are being taken over by the fad of the moment.

Activism and caring (unless something is happening directly to you) are not really "in style".


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