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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Apathy and Activism

Logan HurshWeb

Photo credit: Dustin Keeslar

Logan HurshWeb
Written by: Communicator StaffApril 23, 2014

If someone were to try to depict what social and political change looks like, how do you think it would be described? During the 1960’s antiwar movements it might have been passionate youths marching against the Vietnam War. During the Civil Rights Movement it might have been the large crowds that gathered to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. If I were to answer the proposed question I think that change today would probably resemble someone sitting on their phone updating their status about their ideas for change and proclamations of injustices, and then forgetting about the cause all together. In fact, I can see this everyday on campus.

Since April 1 it has been difficult to walk around campus without overhearing a congregation of students talking about the smoking ban. Most of the overheard conversations are in opposition of the ban and many sarcastic students joke about different methods they will try to defy and protest the ban, but the campus has yet to see any students take action.

It seems like everyone has an opinion on this. When news of the ban first hit IPFW’s Facebook page, the comment section was bombarded with a wide array of colorful expressions. Some students were happy, some were downright enraged, and some were indifferent. A lot of students were adamant about the fact that e-cigarettes shouldn’t be banned — many had eloquent arguments based on scientific research and seemed to know why they believed what they believed. With all of this hype, a riot seemed imminent.

But when the huts were removed, a veil of deafening silence flooded over campus washing away those arguments.

I talked to Bradley Crowe, IPSGA president, about how many students had come to try to petition the ban and he had told me that hardly any students had, other than a few close friends. He went on to say that he thought that nobody had said anything because many students figured that there was nothing they could do about it.

That sentiment has been echoing throughout some of the most enraged students on campus. When they flippantly remark about how they plan to defy the smoking ban, most also respond with a “what’s the point?” when asked if they plan to organize any kind of protest.

Your voice is still heard. Though it may seem as if it falls on deaf ears and that nothing will happen, you’re asserting and exercising a right as a student to petition a change that directly affects you.

It wasn’t the ban that bothered me so much as it was the aftermath of it—the fact that there was no aftermath. For all of the anger I saw in students I really wanted to see something happen – at least some sort of effort, but it seems as if we’ve all rolled over on our backs and allowed ourselves to be stepped over.

I thought maybe since I hadn’t seen or heard anybody active in fighting the ban that I would reserve my judgment and call down to health services to see if there had been an increase in attendance at the cessation classes. Maybe students were trying to quit after the ban? I was told that there really had been no notable increase in the amount of students who attend. So, there has been no change in behavior at all.

I’m not saying that by petitioning the ban anything will change, but this seems to be the trajectory of activism in our culture these days. I affectionately refer to this type of activism as “passive activism” meaning we’re active in our beliefs to an extent, but once the leg work is done and it comes down to brass tacks we seem to get lazy, feeling inconvenienced from our routine and do nothing. It feels like every internet fad all over again. Suddenly everyone has an opinion about something, it’s talked about everywhere, but when push comes to shove and an opportunity presents itself to actually do something about the changes we want to see everyone just kind of remains stagnant, static, unmoving.

I’m not telling you to go out and picket the tobacco ban, before we get any misjudgments about what this is all about, but I am suggesting that if you have a cause that you believe in, that directly affects you, that is within your community and your capabilities to organize a petition or some sort of protest, do it. Get up. Get out. Get off the internet. Unless you have super clout that I don’t know about it is very likely nobody is reading your blog, status updates, twitter feed, Instagram or whatever else. They won’t remember your profile picture when you write a rant, but they will remember the look of determination in your eye when you’re looking directly at them telling them what you want.

Opinion by: Logan Hursh