Nickl: Current U students fall short of past protestors

By By Gina Lea Nickl

By Gina Lea Nickl

In October 1969, several thousand students gathered on the U’s campus and marched to the Federal Building downtown to protest the war. A few months later, our campus erupted with riots. Classes were sidetracked, the ROTC building on campus was firebombed, and four thousand students started a rally just south of the Union building. A fire broke out during the rally and caused an old World War II building near the Union to be lost. After the rally the students sat down and wouldn’t leave until taken away in handcuffs.

This was all done to protest the Vietnam War. Here we are nearly 40 years later in a similar situation. According to a CNN poll conducted in March, 67 percent of Americans disapprove of the Iraq war.

Whether we should or shouldn’t be in Iraq could be debated all day long. The point is, there is a low approval rating and no one who disapproves, at least in comparison, seems to be doing anything about it.

Heather Berg, chairwoman of the College Republicans at the U said, “We don’t want to support violent protests but we encourage students to get out and talk to people about their beliefs and the candidates that they support.”

Oakley Gordon, chairman of the College Democrats agreed, “We encourage students to get involved with legislative and county campaigns.”

College students are notoriously known for taking a stand and being outspoken. It isn’t necessary to start violent riots, but any American regardless of age, sex, race, etc., should take a stand when they don’t agree with what our country is doing.

According to the Hinckley Institute of Politics, at the last debate between our College Democrats and Republicans, fewer than 20 students attended or participated in the debate. Not only are students not taking a strong stand, they don’t seem to even be talking about, or have much interest in the issues.

A study conducted in May of 2000 at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University showed that only 16 percent of students had joined a government or political organization. Only 7 percent had volunteered or plan to volunteer in a political campaign.

Maybe the reason people aren’t speaking out as much is because the personal consequences are not as severe. “I think students are more politically informed than ever but because they aren’t being drafted there is less at stake for them personally so they don’t have as much interest in protesting,” Gordon said

Our Founding Fathers weren’t lazy or uninformed, and they had a lot at stake. Thomas Jefferson was only 33 when writing the Declaration of Independence. James Madison was only 26 when he became a co-writer of our Constitution. These young men were willing to commit treason against England to stand up for what they believed.

It seems Americans today, and college students particularly, when we disagree with policy or society we log on to our Facebook and write an angry blog about it. But this furthers no progress. Suppose the only thing Jefferson did was blog about his grievances with the king-we wouldn’t be having barbecues and fireworks this weekend.

Unless you are perfectly content with the world around you, take action today. Get involved and take a stand, any stand. Too many of us grab an ACLU-approved bumper sticker, slap it on and think we’ve done our part.

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