Election year 2000 will undoubtedly go down in the history books as one of the most complicated and controversial elections in U.S. history. For many students here at UCSD, this unforgettable election year has been their very first, and quite possibly, the most memorable they will ever have.
All of this considered, it is sad to say that for other students at UCSD, voting and knowing who leads their country is as unimportant and petty as their 8 a.m. classes. From what I have observed before and after the days of the Tuesday vote, political awareness and spirit here on campus are lacking in every possible way.
While there are those who present a strong passion and interest in the elections and the candidates, there is also a majority who view them to be a waste of their time, and are completely ignorant when it comes to the candidates’ names and the positions they are running for.
It is evident that times have changed since the 1960s, when political protests, rallies and strikes were a common activity on college campuses, and when the voice of students counted as much as anything else in politics.
Today we are living in the new millennium, and attending one of the most prominent schools in the country. The students, as a way of showing political spirit and support, did not even hold one large political rally or campaign. Sure, there were a few crumpled-up and slanted campaign signs stating “”Bush-Cheney”” or “”Gore-Lieberman”” hung on posts, but this is a university full of young, educated students and future leaders of our country. Hanging signs on posts is not going to get any ideas across to anyone.
So where are the hardcore activists who stand up on stage and preach their political views? Where are the spirited groups that give out stickers and American flags and tell passersby to vote for the person who they passionately believe to be right for our country? Unfortunately, those people do not exist here on this campus and, if they do, something is stopping them from showing their motivation and determination to stand up.
The problem of voting on campus also contributes to the lack of political involvement and awareness. There were those who did vote and proved their commitment by waiting in the 15-minute voting line at Muir college on Tuesday, but the numbers that revealed their dedication did not even seem to include half of the school. While some had the excuse that they were not registered in the San Diego precinct, others did not even know that voting booths were on campus. The lack of political support among people between the ages of 18 to 23 has given political leaders the idea that young people do not care and, even worse, will not vote. For this reason, these leaders do not listen and mostly disregard the ideas and problems of young people in that age group.
This past election was the first of the millennium, not to mention the first election that many UCSD students had the opportunity to participate in. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bore on campus. Standing in line for 15 minutes, I noticed that people talked about anything but whom they were going to vote for or what they wanted out of their future leaders. One student even claimed that he thought it would be funny to just close his eyes and randomly punch holes into the voting ballot.
What this campus needs, along with many other college campuses, is political awareness and excitement coming from students who are willing to volunteer at different campaigns, spread their views around the school, and make their vote count in every possible way.
Whether political spirit is strong on campus is not the central part of the problem. The main problem lies in what students need to do in order to show their commitment to their country. We cannot go back in time to when hippies and activists controlled most of the politics on campus, but we can make a difference through simple political rallies and gatherings that would get our central views across and make politics just a little more fascinating.
If the majority of young people continue to disregard who leads their country, future leaders will simply oppose all of their requests and views. In other words, without speaking up and showing their support, students will be left in the dust. In this day and age, everybody needs to vote and participate, and as the cliche so vividly proved this election year goes, each vote does make a difference.