Student activism is a cornerstone of contemporary American politics. Being at a liberal arts school, it should be a cornerstone of our curriculum. But it’s not.
Since I’ve been here, I would say I have been more politically involved than the average Duhawk. Fellow students, for whatever reason, seem to be increasingly apathetic towards political participation though. Why? Well, that’s a good question.
While Loras, for the most part, welcomes the views of its students (as it should), it institutionally does not go far enough to create or at the very least encourage outlets for all political views. Yes, I know we are a private school, so there are going to be more restrictions with regards to student organizations. Yes, I know we are a Catholic school, so things that go against Catholic teachings are going to be dealt with differently. But to what extent should students be discouraged from expressing dissenting political views?
From my experience, it has been a little tough to find an outlet to express my political views that might go against Loras’ views and the views of the Catholic Church. I would argue that I’m not alone in that regard. While there are clubs and organizations that tend to the discussion of politics and political issues, they only go so far. Through my experience and the experience of friends, it is quite difficult to start a new political organization on campus.
Information and guidelines on how to start an organization (of any kind) are located on the Student Life page, under the Student Development tab on InsideLoras. Once all of the forms are filled out, there is a three month pending period. People that I know who have started organizations often talk about how long and arduous the process is, as you have to fill out a Petition for Recognition, find an advisor and get their approval, complete a list of officers and interested members, construct a constitution and bylaws, draft goals for the organization, and more. Frankly, I think that it’s ridiculous that it takes as long as some people have said (up to five months all together). Once the organization is approved after the probationary period, only then does the organization receive the ability to have a college account from the business office, ability to charge supplies, equipment, food, etc. to the account, the ability to fundraise, and the eligibility to receive appropriations from Loras Student Union. If the process was simpler, more students might be encouraged to begin their own organizations, but as of right now the list of tasks to be completed is pretty daunting.
Since college is a quick four years, spending months or whole semesters trying to get a group started, along with balancing work and co-curricular activities, is absurdly difficult. Students should be able to start organizations a lot quicker and more easily than what is currently allowed. If you want students to be more politically involved on all sides of the political spectrum, you have to make it easier for them to organize. Making it harder and more complicated only stifles political discourse. As a liberal arts college, we should look at more ways to incubate and encourage political discussion, not discourage it.