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Opinion

Students are selfish, apathetic

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February 9, 2007

Now that I have your attention, I want to be serious. The majority of students on this campus, and perhaps young people across America, are selfish. We are selfish in our outrage, and we are selfish in our apathy to the world around us, which will lead us into a future that is not our own.

The Student Voice has had a problem lately, inasmuch as we don’t get many letters to the editor. Occasionally, a professor will write something, but typically the student voices are silent. Last week’s article was an attempt to change that.

But why does it take a personal attack to incite outrage in a populace of young and opinionated people? The answer is selfishness. If I had written an article about how men think with their penises, I would have received much different hate messages on Facebook (cheers from women, and jeers from men). It is the fact that we are selfish that keeps us from crying out for someone else’s pain, from doing what is right.

Instead, we turn to an old friend: apathy. If it isn’t about us, our appearance, or our lifestyle choices, we’re not concerned. One need only look to last semester’s “Letters to the Editor” page. The Voice has published some decent articles over the last semester on some interesting and controversial topics, yet there was no public discourse on the editorial page.

How many must die in Iraq before we say stop? Does anyone care that 20 percent of Americans don’t have health insurance? Or that we may lose reciprocity because of administrative posturing? Here’s one that is close to home. Has anyone gone further than griping at the dinner table about how hard it is to get food in our new $34 million dollar building? I suspect not, and it’s a shame. We paid the bill for that building, and there are people who want to know what we think of it. In some way or another, we’ll all pay the price for the list above, but if we never speak up for ourselves and for others, we’ll never see the change we want, and we will have forfeited our most cherished right as Americans.

All it takes is a letter to the editor, or to the chancellor, or to the dean of students or a senator. A letter to the editor will get your voice heard by the entire student body and many people in town. In fact, (and this is not commonly known) they can be written about any topic you like, though they have a better chance of being published if they are in response to an article.

Finally, and on a personal note, inform yourself about the issue you want to debate. There is nothing more hurtful to me than people spouting off some crap they heard from Sean Hannity or Keith Olbermann without looking for themselves. Knowledge gives power to your argument, and turns the discourse on campus to what I always thought college debate would be: intelligent.

So write to the Voice, create a blog, advertise yourself, stand on a rock in front of the University Center with a megaphone, be outraged, and not just for yourself. I don’t want to hear, “what can one person do?” because if last week can teach us anything, it’s that one person with an opinion can affect a lot of people.

Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.