Peter Arkle, in his analysis of his survey, “Hellraisers: the Next Generation,” published in Mother Jones, reported that 85% of respondents were found to vote that “students today are less politically active than they were in the ’60s.” With the strong youth activism surrounding issues such as race, gender, and marriage equality currently dominating media attention, this survey can be dumbfounding. How can we, as a generation, doubt our own involvement?
Unfortunately, one can’t disagree that the student activism seems far away from the bubble of our own campus. Cal Lutheran lacks any passion for change as it stagnantly stays, as my Government professor puts it, “a culture of nice.”
The niceness on campus is a hallmark of our school as a welcoming student body; However, niceness can also negatively translate into a school where the body of students are apathetic about social issues that call for upheaval.
Some may argue that there is no outcry because there is no injustice on our campus, but other nearby schools don’t remain as passive. One needn’t look any farther than the student activism at all our surrounding UC’s to see the voice missing from our student body. On March 6th, 2015, UC Santa Cruz gained national media attention when its students decided to protest tuition hikes and police violence. UC Berkeley’s rally, over the decision not to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, caused citizens to be maced last year on their own campus. All three of these issues pertain to issues that should be on the forefront of every college student’s mind. These protests signify an outcry for change that garners national attention and discussion within communities.
We are an age group actively affected by the costs of financially and socially living in our current community and independent enough to campaign for change. Yet, the last rally, which you can find with a quick search at on CLU’s website, was more than three years ago. The CLU students, who had rallied against Cal Grant cuts, have already graduated. No other highly significant forms of activism have cropped up in their place.
This was the campus that once had “demonstrations” on Moorpark road, following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, as published in Mary Hekhuis’, “California Lutheran College: The First Quarter Century.”
Beyond physical protests and symbolic gestures, a lack of political conscience affects the way we participate in the everyday politics around us. This year, the presidential candidates are attempting to educate us on their policies in a vy for our votes. With television and social media coverage of candidate statements and debates, information has never been more accessible.
In this stage of our lives, most of the students in attendance at Cal Lutheran are at an age where they are legally able to cast our vote in the upcoming elections. But all of these resources have scarcely affected the tone of our discussion and thought on campus. The G.O.P. debate held topics such as the nuclear deal with Iran and same sex marriage, yet all the Cal Lutheran yaks pertaining to the debate are the roasts about Donald Trump.
Now there’s nothing wrong with light-hearted jokes about Trump’s toupee, but when are we going to get past this and get to the substantial issues? This election marks many of our first opportunities to vote, and a lack of effort in educating ourselves will lead to a president that doesn’t reflect our needs as a generation.
Cal Lutheran’s mission statement proudly pronounces that it wants to “educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment.” An achievement of these goals cannot be reached without competency in political, social, and economic awareness of the world around us. Bring healthy debate about activism and political awareness to the Cal Lutheran “nice” culture.