MEMBERS OF CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY YOUNG DEMOCRATS POSE WITH ASSEMBLY MEMBER SHARON QUIRK-SILVA DURING THEIR KICKOFF MEETING FOR THE 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR.
PHOTO CREDITS: April Tran
Story by Haley Schlatter
“Kardashian” has become a household name. The lyrics of Taylor Swift’s new album are commonplace. The release of Orange is the New Black season 3 has been scribbled in our calendars for months.
So why is it that 29% of Americans cannot name the vice president?
“It is common for students to only be interested in things that benefit them. Because a lot of students are affluent, many of these issues just don’t apply to them due to socioeconomic status. They don’t interest them,” said Katie Nishida, sophomore public relations and advertising student.
According to an online survey given to Chapman students, 100% of respondents agreed that it is important to be engaged and aware of current events. However, 82% of respondents claimed that the Chapman student body is mostly unaware of current events.
Most students, even those behind on current events, know it’s important.
“It's important to be aware of current events because they affect the lives of so many people and it can help people gain an understanding of the world,” said Claire Wright, junior creative writing student.
But for other students, the issues of student ignorance reaps a heavier consequence.
“Chapman students should be asking the questions that get to the roots of problems,” said senior strategic corporate communications student Haley Strickland. “Systems of power control our media. Having reliable sources of information is important. Chapman students should be aware of this, and demand this sort of information from those systems of power.”
For Wright, this student apathy can be chalked up to the small universe students operate within.
“Historically, many college campuses are usually very interested and involved in current events and politics. Chapman? Not so much… Maybe it's because we live in a tiny Chapman bubble,” said Wright.
But not all students agree that Chapman students are fully unaware. For sophomore business student April Tran, the issues lies within a lack student engagement in social issues rather than lack of awareness.
“I believe Chapman's student body is aware of current events but not necessarily fully engaged in them in regards to participating in active conversation and action,” said Tran, a board member of Chapman University Young Democrats.
Students lack of involvement was demonstrated in the last Student Government Association elections. According to www.thepantheronline.com, only 18% of students voted in the elections this semester.
But students’ unengaged tendencies are not rendered hopeless.
Many of the students who agree that their peers are generally uninvolved have offered advice to change these behaviors.
“I am a member of College Republicans at Chapman and when you're around like-minded people who also pay attention to current events, it's easier to learn new things,” said Wright.
But on a larger scale, students have encouraged Chapman University to integrate social engagement into required general education curriculum.
“As an organization, Chapman can create a new GE requirement to take some kind of diversity, political science, or sociology related course and continue encouraging club involvement among students,” said Tran.
As Chapman students have called for their peers to become more aware and engaged, they encourage students to vote, get involved with civic engagement, and read the news.
Tran noted: “It’s so important to be aware and involved. Bring about change towards what you believe in.”