Student Apathy Undermines College Culture and Atmosphere
By The Executive Board
Speech night for AAS elections was held on Monday, and the mostly empty Red Room highlighted a chronic problem among Amherst students: a general culture of apathy. The lack of concern over who will be representing us, the student body, reveals a trend of inaction and indifference that is spreading throughout the campus. This trend can be noticed not only at AAS events, but also at academic lectures, sports matches, club-sponsored activities/fundraisers and other general College events.

Speech night was a perfect example of a terrible turnout for an extremely important affair. The AAS candidates did their best to present persuasive reasons for why they specifically should be elected, but it was hard to be excited when less than 20 non-candidates were there to watch, and when most of these spectators were candidates’ friends with rooting interests, The low turnout indicates that many students will vote blindly for the next AAS president, for the name that sounds familiar or the first one that appears on the ballot instead of for the most qualified. The same goes for the vice president, treasurer, secretary and judiciary council chair. Three of these positions have single candidates running unopposed. Considering that the Treasurer deals with such a large amount of money, it is crazy that not more than one person felt the urge to get involved. If students show a lack of concern, then it shows that we are undeserving of being heard when we want or need to be heard. We understand that Amherst has less than 2,000 students and that not every event can be filled to capacity, but there also seems to be a general disinterest in caring about anything.

Moreover, there was a protest in Keefe last week to question the legitimacy of our controversial mascot and to re-examine Amherst’s policies regarding diversity. This was a small gathering, but embarrassingly enough, it was one of the biggest protests or examples of activism this campus has seen in recent years. It’s not clear why students don’t care enough about political or local issues enough to protest, but it makes the campus significantly less vibrant than a place where activism is the norm.

This general apathy continues into the academic sphere. Non- course-specific lectures are routinely scheduled regarding topics specific to a department, but most of the time students show up only to get credit for a class or because their major requires them to comply. These lectures are open to all students, both for those majoring in certain departments and for non-majors. Some of these lecturers are genuine superstars in their fields and deserve more enthusiastic and larger crowds. Our school is one that prides itself on having some of the most well-rounded students in the country, yet students fail to take advantage of the opportunity to attend a lecture by some of the most renowned professors that make up the foundation of our education and work. Instead of ignoring these opportunities, students should be more aware about subjects that, despite having an open curriculum, some students just don’t have room to fit in their full class schedules.

Clubs are hit hard by student indifference when many people sign up to be on the listserve, only to read and immediately delete the mass e-mails. They end up being propped up by a core group of gung-ho students (more often than not, freshmen). We don’t purport to have any concrete solutions to this problem, but we can encourage students to engage themselves in every manner possible. If Amherst is to be an interesting, lively campus, students need to be more proactive and fight for what they care about.

Issue 22, Submitted 2010-04-14 04:50:39