Change requires participation

By By Alan Monsen

By Alan Monsen

Today’s 56th quadrennial presidential inauguration is a remarkable tradition of the swearing-in ceremony. It is a unique changing of the guard where the reins of power peacefully pass to the successor, where new and old ideas combine to lead the country and where an oath is taken to maintain the values and freedoms that were so courageously attained.

I wanted to tie this historic inauguration to U students in a way to talk about a growing vision and change. But after days of pondering, I realized something8212;many Utahns and U students are apathetic.

Before you stone me, let me explain. With more than 26,000 students enrolled in a nationally and internationally ranked institution, there are many who probably don’t care about the inauguration or even know that it is today.

A report that has recently grabbed national and local headlines comes from George Mason University. In the report, voter turnout in Utah dropped a significant 5 percent since 2004. Only 53.8 percent of the eligible voting-age population in Utah cast a ballot. That means thousands of Utahns, including students, decided to disregard their democratic privileges and not vote. That explains, however unacceptable, why we ranked with the bottom five states in voter turnout.

Many claimed non-competitive races in Utah as the reason. It’s ironic that I continually hear complaints and meet students dissatisfied with politics and the current government as they finish their sixth consecutive hour on Guitar Hero.

There are many ways to get involved, such as the Hinckley Institute of Politics, which offers opportunities to influence the nation and world and make an impact. The recent Rock the Vote campaign registered over 3,000 students, some who had never voted before.

Politics are involved with everything in some way or form8212;you can’t get around it. Apathetic students should at least acknowledge politics. As John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth…that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

We are amid another new generation and are facing change at every corner. A changing university, growing in prestige and cutting back due to economic downturns. A changing country swearing in our first black president.

As you watch the inaugural address8212;hopefully you do8212;focus not on where you were at the time, but what you personally did to embrace the change occurring and how you will make an impact from this time forth.

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