The following reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board.
Last Friday, the Office of Student Activities announced that Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG), would be extending its deadline for student body president (SBP) applications. At the time of the original deadline, only one person had submitted an application for candidacy.
This fact is unsurprising when it’s clear ASG can’t seem to fill a large number of vacant senate seats, not just the premiere positions.
Typically, ASG will hold one special election in the middle of each semester unless there are five senate seats open, in which case they will hold another special election. This semester they have already held one additional special election.
The deadline was also extended for Miami’s Board of Trustees (BoT) student trustee applications, a position that, in the past, has had a highly competitive application and interview process.
Our staff is disheartened by the apparent disinterest in leadership positions within the student body. It’s a reflection of the increase in both the political apathy demonstrated by the majority of the student body and Miami’s failure to emphasize civic responsibility in either academics or student life on campus.
Seniors on our staff recall how, in the months leading up to the 2016 election cycle, students couldn’t walk around campus without being stopped by volunteers registering people to vote. They’d inform individuals of their ability to register in Oxford, regardless of whether they were originally from Ohio, and would help students fill out and submit their registration forms.
In 2018, Miami saw the formation of the Black Action Movement 2.0 (BAM 2.0) after sophomore Thomas Wright used a racial slur in a GroupMe message and then bragged about the articles written about him to other students.
BAM 2.0 held multiple sit-ins at Armstrong Student Center and Roudebush Hall, and published a list of demands which outlined how the university could improve its response to acts of racism against students, how they could better protect students and how to build a more diverse student body.
But it seems as though we’ve lost that kind of activist culture. Now, you are more likely to see students sharing an article online or posting something pithy with a clever caption and they’ll count it as being engaged.
The Ohio primaries are less than a month away, and there has been little to no visible activity on campus in regards to canvassing for candidates or registering students to vote.
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Within ASG, our reporters have noticed debates over bills are fewer and shorter than in the past, as more discussions are held in committee meetings and students just generally fight for things less. In the past, senators would hold the ASG body hostage until enough debate was had on any given topic, often running late into the night. More bills are now passed unanimously. More senators now run unopposed. More seats sit empty.
That drive to be engaged and to fight for the things that matter seems to have slowly graduated out of Miami’s campus culture over the last couple of years. Yes, we may still see glimmers of it, like in September’s Climate Strike, but there’s a distinct difference in protesting to make measurable change and protesting to make a cutesy picket sign that you can Instagram later.
And it certainly feels like the university couldn’t care less about inspiring that kind of engagement, either.
Students are rarely challenged to think critically about their own beliefs and roles in society. Professors hesitate to pose answers to controversial questions, knowing the university will not protect them against any retribution they may face as a result of presenting an actual, thought-provoking idea.
Students beg for PowerPoints in every class so they can rote memorize the notes and move on with their lives without really engaging with the content — and professors let them skate by so as to not provoke a bad class evaluation at the end of the semester.
There is little effort to provide a better understanding of how our world works, call out injustices or give attribution to just what has caused the economic, climate and political crises we now face or are about to. Departments are siloed off in a battle for funding, when in reality so many pieces of a liberal education are intersectional.
The Miami Plan has become a list of boxes to check off, rather than an opportunity to truly grasp a well-rounded picture of how the world works.
All of this is to say we at The Student wish people gave a damn.
As we prepare for the upcoming SBP election, we challenge our fellow students to actually engage in creating a meaningful campus culture.
Don’t allow your apathy to in class or in life be an excuse. Engage, lead by example and encourage others to do the same. We owe it to each other.