College students are often considered lazy. But who can blame us? After the continual beatings from midterms, papers, the expected “25 to 35” hours a week studying, projects, jobs and an active social life, it’s hard to procure time for anything else. Trust me, I understand this. However, I don’t find this to be a valid excuse for the epidemic of political apathy sweeping our great university.
Over the past few weeks voter registration drives have been taking place on campus. The fact is, the general elections are now less than a year away! Initially, a goal was set of registering 500 people to vote. All told, only 137 ended up taking five minutes to register. 137! Personally, I’ve decided to take that as a win. Because of the drives there are now 137 more people who can ultimately decide the path our country should take. What vexes me, though, is the sheer volume of people that turned down the simple registration process. Excuses ranged from the obligatory “I’m late for class” (even though I know you weren’t!) to just plain “No.”
The intent of this article is to alert everyone. Our motto here at Cal Poly is “Learn by Doing.” But when only 25.5 percent (14 percent for the run-off) of us voted for the ASI president (our direct “leader”), we aren’t doing anything. This isn’t just a Poly problem, though. Only 41.4 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the last national election. That’s a very small percentage for the age group that should be dictating OUR future. And just for reference, elections are held on a Tuesday so no one should be hung-over and is therefore able to fill in a bubble.
Now, I understand politics can cause general aggravation. This is especially true among our age group. We experience a general disconnect between us and “Capitol Hill,” mostly because we do not find it exciting or meaningful enough to warrant our attention. Is this really reason enough to let another election pass by? As a student advocate for a presidential candidate on campus, I spend a lot of time walking around talking to students about voting in the primaries. I took note as to how much confusion this created seeing as most of the students didn’t know when the primaries are held (Feb. 5) or even what they are.
It’s proving difficult to not “preach” or appear like one of those “The World’s Going to End” sign-wielders. The fact is just that I am truly concerned for our country, and our generation in general. We spew judgment on the Britney Spearses and Lindsay Lohans of this world, yet we can’t find time to do some quick research on the people vying to be our nation’s next leader. So my sweeping generalization is this: If we maintain our status quo of apathy, we have no right to comment on how things are. We need to find time to understand the basics of our government and vote. Please, please go out and change the world.
Conner Johnston is an industrial engineering junior and a Mustang Daily guest columnist.