When I was younger, I had an unrelenting fascination with the ideas perpetuated by popular culture and entertainment about college life. I grew out of that when faced with the initial reality of attending college in the same city where I grew up. I figured that when I went away to school, to what could presumably be called a “real” college environment, this would change.
I didn’t anticipate a campus such as CSUN. I almost feel stupid for complaining that it doesn’t live up to the ideal college experience that we’re all told to expect – until I start to realize that at some college campuses people are actually into connecting with their peers and other members of the university community, where the school isn’t defined by a perpetual state of not giving a damn.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a majority of readers are by now giving that tired “but we’re a commuter school” excuse for not being involved or not being passionate about something, anything that relates to either CSUN or, say, current events in general. That is not an excuse to be lacking in spirit or interest in events that are happening on campus. The plain truth seems to be that some people on campus are lazy, unwilling or both.
I am not saying being involved means you have to go to every Red Rally or sporting event decked out in red because you feel you have to be. There are so many ways to contribute to CSUN and its community, but nearly everyone acts like they can’t be bothered.
Last week, the California Faculty Association, in regard to its long battle with the California State University system over salary and benefits, held a picketing session. At its peak, the 90-minute rally drew less than 200 people. On a campus whose population hovers at around 35,000. Students nearby, who didn’t even bother to get up from their seats at Sierra Quad, looked on in amusement, seemingly baffled by such involvement and passion.
After all, they are used to the apathy that is a CSUN hallmark, as dearly held as the optimistically stated six-year graduation rate.
During down times in our newsroom (rare though they are), I’ll look through the archives of the Sundial. Students on this campus in the 1960s and 1970s were commuters just as most of us are. Yet they still had an indisputable penchant for making their voices heard, whether that was through showing spirit for their school or staging sit-ins and protests, which actually led to the creation of many of the cultural clubs and academic departments we completely take for granted today. There are virtually no political protests or tables set up around campus now (unless you count those Lyndon LaRouche stands), and as the Sundial reported last semester, membership in student political clubs is at a disheartening, though not at all surprising, low. Given the rather self-involved atmosphere of the campus, an outsider would think that we lived in a cave, one where people had no idea that there is, in fact, a major war that our country initiated, or that the United States is in massive political upheaval as I write this.
I know that what I write here will actually reach a fraction of the campus, and about half of that number will actually ponder getting involved, whether that’s by showing some pride in our school or just speaking out publicly on the issues that, like it or not, inevitably will affect all of us. It seems like more and more we are becoming known as the apathetic generation, but at least some students at other schools are trying to buck that trend. When will CSUN?