Editorial: Involvement Surge: Will we take the next step?

In November 2014, we published an editorial titled “Student involvement: lack of interest or lack of time?” where we discussed the general characteristic of apathy across campus. This piece was framed in the context of the then-recent Bucknell Student Government (BSG) forums hosted in hopes of increasing transparency with the new constitutional changes, both of which resulted in no students attending. The piece discussed indifference toward on-campus events, conversations that dig deeper than the social scene, and attaining the perspectives of others.

In April 2015, we are able to publish an editorial with a drastically different tone; this one is able to express an upturn. During the past semester, the student body rallied behind several different issues that ranged in scope and weight but warranted student engagement nonetheless. In the past week or so, there was a drastic increase in Speak UP applications, a large turnout for the Neighborhood Thaw Out, and the sizable attendance at the Solidarity Ceremony.

This year, Speak UP received a record number of applicants for the position of peer educators: 70 applications for 20 spots. In addition, this semester, 26 men and 23 women participated in sorority and fraternity ally training. The relatively new program on campus has gained quite a bit more traction on campus in the past semester alone.

In addition, this year, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Council encouraged attendance at the Neighborhood Thaw Out. The Vice Presidents of Philanthropy from each Greek organization urged their members to participate in the event, and the timing that resulted in the event coinciding with Greek Week served as yet another incentive to get an increased number of Greek individuals helping out. The extra push resulted in one of the highest turnouts for the annual Neighborhood Thaw Out event.

Finally, this week’s Solidarity Ceremony hosted by BSG and an array of other student organizations drew nearly 2,000 individuals to the Academic Quad, quickly surpassing the occupancy of the initial 700 chairs set up on the quad. Students spoke, listened, and engaged with one another, transcending any talk they might have received from a visiting lecturer. And they did so in the masses. In addition, a selection of the larger group stayed behind after the ceremony, participating in small-scale discussions that dug deeper.

Of course, this issue has room for improvement. Now that an increased number of students are applying for the positions, attending the events, and participating in the talks, they should take their involvement one step further. For those who are not offered a position as a Speak UP counselor, do something else to fight the culture that lends to assault and discomfort on campus. For those who participated in the Neighborhood Thaw Out because of a requirement and enjoyed the work they did, seek more opportunities to get involved in projects in downtown Lewisburg. For those who attended the Solidarity Ceremony but did not stay for the group-led discussions, consider participating in a discussion similar in nature in the near future.

While the problem of indifference among students is not entirely fixed, this editorial is not calling for students to snap out of their state of perpetual apathy–a lot already have. Rather, it is calling on students to carry the involvement, engagement, and conversations they maintained over the course of the past few weeks and months beyond the last day of the spring semester. It is calling on students to force these tendencies to reverberate into their summers and their fall semesters in hopes that they will eventually become cemented as habits.

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