Print Edition: September 10, 2014
How do I get other students to give a shit about any of this?
Most students running clubs or organizations on campus will likely agree this is an essential question: one that makes or breaks everything a group is trying to accomplish. If not, I’d like to know your secret.
This week I spent a couple hours at a table at U-Join to talk to students about The Cascade, to encourage them to contribute, and to meet our readership in person. I know from being on the other side of the table that matching names to faces can go a long way, but I left the event feeling a little disheartened. Maybe the middle of a warm, sunny Monday afternoon is not a high-traffic time on the Green, or maybe people have already stopped attending their Monday classes, but I only had three visitors. Tables with candy and ice cream on offer seemed to fare a little better, which is no surprise, but still — how many students were just there for the sweet stuff?
At least The Cascade has the benefit of a weekly publication — something tangible to set out on tables and in racks around campus to prove we exist, that we’re part of student life here. But after seeing referendums with a miserably low voter turnout, and attending event after event with the same dozen people running the show and filling the seats, I have to wonder: are students part of student life here?
I remember walking through a crowd of students at my first U-Join, trying to peer between people crowded around one table or another, and getting the sense that university was a place that had its own community, its own unique flavour. Maybe I’ve become too cynical, but now I feel more like I’m trying to extract that flavour from a stone. I see small groups of students trying (and some succeeding, despite the lack of interest from their peers) to make an impact.
This reluctance to foster community on campus is a bad habit for well-educated people to carry into the world beyond.
A little over 20 years ago, The Cascade published a full page of letters to the editor. Some discussed the lack of support for gay and lesbian students, others responded briefly to articles in the news and opinion sections, and still more discussed things they had seen in local or provincial papers. Now we’re happy to get more than one or two letters in a semester, sometimes none from students. I also can’t recall the last time I heard of a letter campaign urging governments to embrace political or social change.
Maybe it’s a product of the time: letter campaigns, like social media donation blitzes, ignite briefly and flicker out. But letter-writing is another way we participate in community as well as exercise our political power. The people who are in a position to make decisions at any level, whether they are part of the Student Union Society or university governance, don’t know what you want, need, or care about without your feedback.
This paper is not meant to be just the voice of staff and regular contributors. It’s supposed to be a place for your voice — but that’s something we can’t accomplish without you.
C’mon, Shoeless Joe. Your baseball field is right here.