No more excuses

Around this time last year I walked into the JDUC’s McLaughlin Room in anticipation of attending my first town hall meeting — it was to solicit student input on the changes to the minimum tuition payment deadline.

I was surprised to see three times as many pizza boxes as students. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as I was well aware of apathy on campus.

As a second-year student, I attended the forum out of necessity for a Journal story rather than my own interest in the discussion. I was guilty of complaining to my friends about the changes that were to occur but had never taken the time to actively participate in public forums or speak directly with student leaders.

My excuses were fairly common: other things in my life took precedence. There I witnessed student leaders actively promoting discussion forums and expecting a large turnout, only to be greeted with a 20-person turnout — most of whom were student representatives.

With the recent discussion surrounding the low turnout at mental health forums, I can’t help but ask where the responsibility for student participation lies.

Is it the duty of those elected as student political leaders to ensure that students are present at these feedback discussions? Or is it up to the students to make sure that they’re informed and aware that these discussions are taking place?

Maybe being informed isn’t practical or convenient for students who are committed to their busy lives. But whether it’s a lack of proactively committing to these formal discussions or a need for better outreach, at the end of the day this responsibility should be left to students.

The fact of the matter is, people are interested but they aren’t engaged.

Too often, opinion is just comprised of a small certain percentage of students. The small numbers who do engage in feedback are the ones who are already engaged in student politics, which brings into question the diversity of student input generated at these forums.

Student opinion is out there. We need to put campus issues on our priority lists and make sure our voices are heard.

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