College is meant to prepare students for entering the real world by giving them more independence and in-depth courses. But that learning must go further. Turn on the news. Pick up a paper. Engage. Learn.
It is essential that college students connect not just with their peers, but with the rest of the world. The mudslide that killed hundreds of people in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and political unrest triggered by Brexit may seem far away and inconsequential to Americans. But the truth is that in modern society, political, social and economic ties are increasingly complex and nuanced.
When the Brexit vote was held following these events, many American news outlets observed closely, because the results were an indicator of larger anti-establishment trends that were rocking the whole globe, from America with Donald Trump to Catalonia’s vote to break away from Spain. Therefore, college students should have paid attention to this worldly issue.
Another reason that college students must pay attention is that greedy and corrupt politicians are more than willing to use ignorance to their advantage. Uninformed citizens are easily manipulated.
Trump made claims about immigrants stealing jobs from American citizens, which is false. But voters bought into those claims because they were not properly informed.
Likewise, Hillary Clinton’s statement, “I am the only candidate who ran in either the Democratic or the Republican primary who said from the very beginning [that] I will not raise taxes on the middle class,” was false. Fifteen other senators made the same pledge, including some from the GOP.
Aside from elections, being informed is important. Being informed allows students to think critically about choices being made by the government. For example, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently reversed the Obama administration’s stance on sexual assault on campus. This is something Rider students and campus communities around the country can have a position on.
Whether or not an individual agrees with DeVos, it is important to note that the Journal of Adolescent Health published a study in 2015 that concluded that 20 percent of women experienced assault during their college careers.
Of course, rape on campus is “probably even worse than we thought,” according to Liz Maatz, vice president of government relations at American Association of University Women, who spoke with the Huffington Post around the time of the study’s publication.
The statistics and professional input give context to DeVos’s decision, allowing students to see the bigger picture and form opinions.
Staying informed about issues will give college students a new way to express themselves and to interact with the world around them. To truly be an adult means making informed decisions and to do that, one must be educated about what is happening in the world outside of their backyards.
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 10/4/17 issue.