As the total sum of funds raised for bursaries and scholarships by the Shuffle near the $1 million mark, how much of that amount has been raised by students? Judging by a slim student turnout last Friday, probably very little. University president Judith Woodsworth bluntly chastised students at the Shuffle, saying “it would have been nice if they would have turned up.”
The same sentiment can be extended to the first sessions of the “Open to Question” series featuring Woodsworth and University provost David Graham: only a handful of students gathered to voice their opinion to Concordia’s administration about topics facing the university. The student participation rate, or rather, absenteeism, evidenced by these recent events is a sad sign of the student body’s level of involvements.
The amount of students that vote in Concordia Student Union elections is just as disheartening. In the latest round of elections slightly less than 10 per cent of the student population bothered to vote for representatives that manage $1.75 million of our money and services. It seems that Concordia’s student population doesn’t have a target for their apathy; it’s equally measured out and applied to everything.
This apathy doesn’t stem from a lack of relevant issues. Tuition always seems to be teetering on the edge of rising. The CFS maintains a death grip on what the CSU allegedly owes them. And there’s always a variety of fee levies being proposed that gradually increase student fees. So why the indifferent attitude to everything Concordia?
Well, students are first and foremost students. Classes tend to run the life of the average student and when not in class the many readings and endless writing take over. Then the part-time jobs that pay for tuition. How are students expected to take on a 6.5 kilometer walk when there are books to be cracked and tables to be bussed? We wish we could have showed up, Judith, but we were in class, or making lattes.
The academic lifespan of the typical student should be taken into account as well. Most students spend three to four years at Concordia and adopt a blitz-through-school attitude in order to finish as soon as humanly possible. Why care when you’ll be gone in a year or two?
It should also be noted that students are self-interested and are reluctant to do or get involved in things that will not benefit them directly. Fundraising for the Shuffle and then walking it does not have many direct implications for one student – but studying for an exam or making a work shift does.
Concordia has taken a step in the right direction by adding students’ volunteer work to their transcripts. While volunteering should be a selfless and generous activity, perhaps having it appear on your official transcript from your university will be the kick in the behind students need to get involved.
As it stands, Concordia functions as an educational limbo where students pay a fee and, when their time is up, they emerge with a degree. Woodsworth shouldn’t be surprised that students are not involved, they neither have the time nor the motivation to get involved. It’s a university culture that’s self-defeating; no one minds if nothing is done because it won’t affect you for too long. At least, that’s the short term logic.
In the long run, it’s the students that let the administration slide and the apathetic culture dominate that will be paying taxes. And it’s those taxes that will go to pay for future universities’ costs. By not being involved now, we’ll be giving free reign to those who may not be making decisions that best benefit the students.
While it may not seem to be possible now with workloads and readings, the slightest involvement can ensure that, at the very least, universities will still serve the future’s best interest. Be it voting or voicing opinions to the president or provost, we need to make sure we won’t be paying for our apathy in the future.