Lackluster Political Participation Needs to Change

HUNTER SAVERY ’20
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
College campuses have long been associated with political involvement and idealism, from the anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s at campuses across the country to more recent anti-Trump protests. Despite this, some schools seem more or less apathetic about the world of politics. Sadly, many observers would put our dear old Trinity into that category. Although the Bantams make their home in a state capital and political science is one of the college’s most popular and best regarded majors, many Trinity students do not seem to care about America’s leadership. That’s particularly unfortunate for a school that already has a reputation as being a haven for the outof-touch elite. If the polarizing Trump presidency, one that seems to trample every great American value, fails to inspire significant activism, what will?
It should be stated that there is some political activism on Trinity’s campus. ConnPIRG is quite active, as are Amnesty International and the Trinity College Democrats. However, those clubs represent only a small fraction of the student body. While turnout is high at the beginning of each term, interest and attendance seem to diminish as the semester progresses. Low turnout interferes with a club’s ability to create effective activism. The Trinity College Democrats are an example of this. The club’s Facebook group currently has over 120 members, yet attendance at meetings rarely exceeds 20 students. This shows that a good deal of students are interested in politics and have a definite political lean, yet not enough are interested in actually taking part in activism. A club for Democrats might have trouble mobilizing supporters, but their Republican counterparts do not even exist. There can be no question that there are Republicans at Trinity. One could assume that if they count the number of Range Rovers on campus for family weekend.
It is not easy to have an active political discussion on campus when only one side has any interest in speaking. There could be weakly or monthly panel discussions on the major issues facing our country. The Trinity College Democrats could represent the left, but where are the Republicans? Sure, an outspoken conservative or two could be found to advocate for their ideology, but that is not what democracy is about. Public political discussions led by students would inspire greater political dialogue on campus, but the catch-22 is that for those discussions to be successful there needs to be political interest in the first place. Trinity students need to embrace their political beliefs and understand that there has never been a better time to push for change. According to FiveThiryEight, President Trump’s approval rating is sitting below 38%. That number might be higher at Trinity. But one would think that more people would be interested in participating in what may be the most lively political discussion in American history.
There is no easy solution for inspiring political involvement on campus. Trinity’s culture may simply not be conducive to political participation. Hopefully that will change in the coming years. Every new class seems to bring more civically minded students to campus, and that is just what the college needs. For the students already here, however, everyone has a political leaning and American politics have never been more polarized, so join the conversation. Liberals: do not just like the Trinity Democrats Instagram posts, go to a meeting! Conservatives: organize, make a club, get yourselves together! Just imagine if Camp Trin cared about politics as much as it does about squash. That ideal can be a reality, but not without student participation.

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