Sean McMinn/Mustang News

Cal Poly students’ dissatisfaction reflects a nationwide trend: ABC News reported that only 12 percent of Americans approve of Congress, the lowest proportion it has been in forty years.

Despite the diversity of political beliefs at Cal Poly, students’ reactions to the government shutdown fell mainly into two camps: disgust and apathy.

“It’s kind of embarrassing to watch,” said Liz Rosa, a mechanical engineering freshman who identifies as a Democrat. “I mean, not that I had a lot of respect for the federal government beforehand, but it certainly doesn’t help. It doesn’t give me a lot of faith in Congress.”

The shutdown, which lasted 16 days, ended on Oct. 17 when President Barack Obama signed a bill raising the debt limit.

The bill passed in the Republican-controlled House on Oct. 16, but only because of a united Democratic front. A majority of Republicans voted against the measure.

Kyle Libby, an aerospace engineering freshman, said he thinks the shutdown was a “reckless solution.”

“There were solutions other than furloughing people, sending people home from their jobs without money that they need,” he said.

Libby said he held the Tea Party — a radical faction of Republicans — responsible.

But even registered Republicans were upset.

“I actually don’t disagree with Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, and I think the shutdown was unnecessary,” business administration junior Kieran Pierce said. “But even if you were to oppose it, not passing the United States’ budget is not the way to go about handling the issue. So I think Congress was being immature.”

David Heinrich, an economics senior who is also a Republican, had similar thoughts.

“I believe Obamacare should be funded, because it was signed into law,” he said. “Just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be funded.”

Cal Poly students’ dissatisfaction reflects a nationwide trend: ABC News reported that only 12 percent of Americans approve of Congress, the lowest proportion it has been in forty years.

Some of those who weren’t angry were ambivalent.

Christian Harris, a psychology freshman who “didn’t know much” about the shutdown and was not aware it had ended, said, “I kind of wanted to know more about it, but nothing seemed to be affecting me directly to go search for more information.”

Other students cited a lack of time or interest as the reason they did not follow politics.

“I don’t have much of a say, so I don’t really follow it,” business administration freshman Peter Zwart said.

With political participation continually declining among 18 to 21-year-olds, these weren’t unexpected responses. However, many students said they were more likely to get involved in politics after the shutdown debacle.

“(The shutdown) would probably make me more involved, like be more educated and know who I’m voting for,” earth science freshman William Wittich said.

Although many students interviewed expressed resentment at the poor representation they were receiving, only one knew the name of the Central Coast’s delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It remains to be seen whether students will rectify this by fulfilling promises to get more involved.

“I think it’s such a big issue, and as a college student, it’s kind of embarrassing I’m not more educated about it,” animal science freshman Marlaine McKean said.

January’s fiscal cliff, which resulted from the 111th Congress’s failure to pass a budget on time, fueled a similar spark of political activity. But passions faded after the media hype died down.

Nate Honeycutt, a psychology senior and president of the Cal Poly College Republicans, said some people he knows are very passionate about politics, up-to-date on it and discuss it with their friends. But they are in the minority, he said.

“You have some people who keep up-to-date, but there’s really no action behind it,” Honeycutt said. “They know what’s going on, but nothing’s being done. And then you have a lot of people who get caught up with work, and school and studying.”

His brother, bioresource and agricultural engineering freshman Logan Honeycutt, stopped him.

“I don’t even think that’s it,” Logan said. “I think there are just lots of people who are really apathetic and just don’t care at all. I think there’s more who don’t care than people who do, easily.”

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