Characterizing university students as apathetic is so ubiquitous that it’s become deeply clichéd.
Many observers of us “millennials” would be quick to say we don’t care, whether that’s about each other, those in need, our own futures and so on.
But I don’t buy it.
It’s not that Queen’s students don’t care — it’s that many of them care for the wrong reasons.
Ask students about the administration, the AMS, their faculty society, the Journal or any other high-profile group on campus,and the majority will respond with neither ignorance nor indifference. They’ll know what you’re talking about and they’ll be angry about it.
When these groups — political, social or otherwise — are functioning well, they generally go unnoticed.
So long as students aren’t a member of the organization, club or team, most won’t be aware of good, effective work done by their peers.
It’s only once a committee or project intersects with a student’s life that they stop to take notice. Sometimes, something has to go wrong for the interaction to make a real impact.
One negative interaction with an unprepared or unpleasant representative can tarnish a student’s impression of the group as a whole — sometimes irreparably.
This process fails to acknowledge the good work our fellow students are doing, even when they churn out positive results to a much greater degree than they slip up. Reducing the work of others to a handful of mistakes that you happen to be aware of is disrespectful of their efforts and successes.
Focusing on the negative might prevent real, constructive collaboration on the part of students who don’t currently engage much with campus initiatives.
Even though the AMS works every day in ways that profoundly affect the lives of students, some feel they needn’t actively engage with student politics on a consistent basis. They already think of themselves as informed by virtue of the one unflattering thing they know.
If you have a problem with the work anyone is doing on campus, the only solution is to do something yourself to fix it.
My challenge is for students to learn one good thing about every group they currently only know bad things about — and if you can’t find one, make one.
Kate is the Journal‘s Assistant Lifestyle Editor. She’s a third-year philosophy major.
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