Apathy by general agreement

Mike Toycen

In time for the new school year, Lawrence’s greatest scrooge has returned: apathy. Last year apathy concerned itself over the prospect of community building or the apparent lack of student interest in Ariel. This time it appears to pertain to politics and political activism, a more inflammatory topic. However, political apathy is not the problem but instead it is the atmosphere of Lawrence is.
A lack of diversity with political views is the most likely culprit. It is no secret that Lawrence is on the far left of the political spectrum. Why do Lawrentians receive free rides when laughing about Sarah Palin’s nasally accent but looks of repulsiveness when doing something as banal as expressing support for John McCain? Overall it can be agreed that liberals at Lawrence greatly outnumber conservatives.
Tom Wolfe, the famous American writer, said that in 2003, when he shocked the publishing world by stating he supported George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, the response was akin to saying, “Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I’m a child molester.” Something similar may perhaps be said of the response a conservative receives around people on this campus.
When someone complains that there is political apathy in the classroom, or is frustrated by the rarity of political discussions or arguments, it is important to note that, given this political climate, a conservative will ultimately get shot down. This is attributed to conservatives being outnumbered and, in looking at Lawrence’s recent history, that the amplitude of one’s voice, whether or not it is one of reason, will ultimately win in debates.
It must also be kept in mind that the classroom is ultimately for learning, not political arguments. Political debates when not part of the curriculum would be pointless — people bold enough to get into them are few, leaving most mute on the issue. Impressive as it may be that some individuals have the boldness to propose wasting everyone else’s time, useless rhetorical battles in which no one’s opinion will change should be kept outside the classroom. Students who wish to pontificate in class should first become a professor.
Apathy — political or otherwise — at Lawrence is not a problem; It never has been. It seems to be that those who complain loudest about apathy, no matter what facet of student life it concerns, are often those who feel they are not receiving enough attention from the student body. While it is certainly lamentable that some things receive less attention than others, people, no matter what they concern themselves with on this campus, will become incensed about apathy of some sort. Greeks worry no one cares about Greek life, athletes complain of the lack attention paid to sports, and students involved in the arts bemoan low attendance for cultural events. Perhaps I could write a different column mourning how no one will read this. Will it get me more attention? The busyness of students at Lawrence and the lack of diversity with political views determine apathy — not whether or not they care. Those who are concerned over apathy of any nature should be reminded of it.