Remember your college admissions essay? The one you wrote about how you were going to make the most of the opportunity to attend any of the fine institutions you applied to: You promised to grow as a student, as a citizen, as a person.
Students are increasingly projecting a general sense of apathy in regards to campus life, which may send the wrong message to those admissions officers who held your claim you were going to strive for excellence in higher esteem than your barely above-average high school GPA. For those of us who sought — and most often received — some sort of financial aid, our scant acknowledgement of on-campus events shows a lack of willingness to engage with new opportunities, instead content to enjoy what we’ve received and carry on selfishly in pursuit of our personal goals. Whose parents would genuinely be happy that their fresh-faced, college-bound son or daughter turned out to be the kind of student who couldn’t be bothered to look up from their micro-universe of reading responses, Instant Netflix and Thirsty Thursdays and influence school policy, or acknowledge the arts and culture community so many have worked so hard to establish?
In exchange for what ultimately amounts to little time and money, students had the chance Wednesday to see two renowned, relevant stand-up comedians at the Collins Center for the Arts. Of the nearly 12,000 students currently enrolled at the University of Maine Orono, only 230 purchased tickets to see Michael Ian Black and Mike Birbiglia — not only are they both entertaining, they are also as good of an excuse as any to get out of your dorm and out of your head. Is the chance for two Mikes on mics to change up your midweek mindset not worth the $20 and half of a Wednesday evening?
Another lackluster student turnout this week was for the UMaine Student Government elections. Voting for student body president, vice president, and on a referendum proposing to increase the student activity fee was a process that took literally seconds — except for those who agonized for hours over sassy write-in votes — and which was made easy and obvious by the balloting system set up on FirstClass. Just over 2,000 students voted on each of the questions, which, as it turns out, is not even enough to have rendered a favorable vote for the referendum, which it did not receive, valid. Apparently more than one-third of the student body needs to participate in a vote in order to invoke a policy change, and a measly 25 percent could be bothered this time around.
This may not be entirely representative of the level of student interest for any given on-campus event. Perhaps popular comedic entertainment, student government leadership and elections seeking to directly influence how much all students pay for tuition just don’t rank high enough on the list of priorities. This begs the question, though — just what is enough to inspire participation around these parts? A football game? A funky bluegrass spectacle at the CCA, featuring a recent inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? A presidential election?
Just remember, the next time you’re choosing to rinse and repeat your previous night’s activities instead of taking the smallest of chances on trying to enjoy campus events geared toward exactly you, ignoring your school-sanctioned options doesn’t make you independent or alternative. Even a polite disinterest should be scolded as squandering an opportunity to be potentially entertained or enlightened. No man is an island, so Donne your best frock and go trust in the potential that your surroundings can influence you in profound and unexpected ways.