Politics, politics everywhere
Welcome to Wash. U., where politics is like water: never bottled up. From national, to local, to university politics, people rarely keep their opinions to themselves and need very little encouragement to shout them from the rooftops, or at least from the Student Life editorial pages.
I live for the banter, for the dissent and dissension, as much as the next political buff. I love the formal debates on the same scale as the earnest conversations in line at Whispers. I cherish the site of College Democrats and College Republicans flyers hanging side by side like proud flags on every vertical surface on campus. Politics is an omnipresent force at this school: from the classroom to the dorm room, from the New York Times to Student Life, we are a community of diverse political ideas in the midst of one of the great American swing states. Is there any better place to engage?
If, reading this, you find yourself worrying that you may not fit in with this level of political fervor, simply ask yourself these questions. Did you spend Fall 2008 frenetically working for the Obama or McCain campaigns? Did you recently vote in your first local election? Have you done community service or raised awareness for a cause? Have you stood up for something you believe in? Have you embraced this country as your home, be it temporarily or permanently?
You, my friend, are interested in politics. It is the force that drives your world, that has the power to make your passions into actions. So speak up and join up! Wash. U. is resplendent with College Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians all dying to make you a card-carrying member. If you’re not interested in partisanship, join Green Action or Students for Choice, volunteer with the Campus Y, run for Student Union office, or participate in any of the millions of student groups that pledge their time toward political and community action.
As you begin your career here at Wash. U., you will find yourself besieged from all sides by your fellow students waving brightly colored fliers and extolling the virtues of Group X and Club Y; offering the various seductions of pizza and candy and free pens to draw you like so many moths to the flame. At the same time, your advisers, deans, parents, residential advisors, and various well-meaning others will encourage you to pace yourself and not over-schedule your first semester. Eventually, you’re going to figure out where you fit between these extremes of activity and inactivity. My only advice for you as you embark on your time at this university is that you find something that has meaning for you: don’t shy away from engagement, from speaking out about your passions. Whether you care to admit it or not, you are interested in politics – embrace it, engage with it, and you won’t regret it.