Friday, February 23, 2018

The “Apathy at Trinity” Debate Must Shift its Focus

KYRA LYONS ’20

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

I had a lot of problems with Trinity my freshman year. There was an overwhelming sense that no one truly cared about anything. Yes, there was always intelligent discussion occurring in the classrooms, but it always felt like students were pretending to care for the sake of their GPA rather than participating because of sincere interest. My classmates always seemed more genuinely interested in discussing which party to attend or where to buy their liquor instead of the more important issues occurring on campus and in the world.

I would be remiss if I believed that I was alone in these frustrations. My freshman year, I would discuss these frustrations with anyone who would listen: classmates, high school teachers, family, high school friends; trying to determine whether this was just the typical college experience or whether this general apathy was unique to Trinity. It seemed to be a mixture. Some friends were also experiencing this weird dichotomy of intense care regarding intellectual discourse and lack of conviction when it came to important social or political issues. However, on most campuses students were just as committed to addressing social and political issues as they were to getting a good GPA.

It is my sophomore year and I am one of the students that chose not to transfer despite these apparent issues. Trinity’s culture has not changed. I have just chosen to shift my focus. I have encountered a lot of freshman who have the same issues that I did. They are overwhelmed by the seeming majority of students that do not care about “real” issues. On Trinity’s surface social level, it is easy to agree that the students have skewed priorities and seem apathetic to true issues. However, to anyone who argues that Trinity is generally apathetic, I disagree. These people have yet to dig deeper into the Trinity community to find the groups of students that do truly care about Trinity as a community, as well as the issues prevalent in today’s society.

If people focused less on which fraternity party they want to attend and more on what organization they want to join, maybe Trinity would be perceived as less apathetic. There are hundreds of organizations on this campus that are addressing important social and political issues every day. These organizations not only discuss these issues but take active steps to address them. ConnPIRG is always taking on an initiative, whether that’s 100% renewable energy on campus or hosting TrinTalks to create healthy political discourse on campus.

The Chapel Community recently helped settle a Syrian refugee family in Hartford. Trinity College Democrats club members often attend marches focusing on important political issues. Amnesty International frequently hold phone banks addressing these issues with members of government. Cultural organizations regularly sponsor common hour talks and events addressing issues within their communities. Last semester, many organizations came together to raise money and support for the communities who were affected by the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. For Christmas, ACES asked students to sponsor snowmen to pay for Christmas gifts for homeless children. Many students at Trinity are involved with organizations that address important social and political issues, both on campus and in the world. Students on this campus are more than capable of discussing these issues and will express passion about them, if you only ask.

Maybe Trinity seems generally apathetic because people are too afraid to ask hard-hitting questions for fear of offending whoever they are speaking to. Sure, some people are apathetic about life in general and choose not to get involved with issues that really matter. That is unfortunate, but something that you will run into throughout life. If we want to change the general perception of apathy at Trinity, we need to shift our focus as a community onto the organizations and people behind those organizations that are always working to make this community and the world in general a better place. Our community is not apathetic. We just often choose to focus on the select few that are. It’s time to shift our focus.

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