By the Editorial Board
Apathy (n.): lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. As a leader of a student organization on campus, you likely have seen this rear its ugly head on your student organization(s). Attendance at general body meetings is down. When your student organization hosts events on-campus, attendance is, unsurprisingly, down. It feels frustrating, much to the point that people have to put more effort into their own clubs, and may not feel like they reap the results of what they sow.
We have to ask ourselves why. Why has the Canisius community grown so apathetic? Ultimately, the causes of our apathy stem from reasons both inside and outside of our own control. Looking at these different causes, we began with Today@Canisius, which sought to reduce the amount of emails students at Canisius receive in their inbox every day. While we agree that the amount of emails received before Today@Canisius was annoying at times, they effectively displayed what was going on with each student organization. If one was not interested in their events, one would simply delete the email without looking at it, as it oftentimes contained important information in the subject line, such as “GENERAL BODY MEETING TOMORROW AT 6:00 PM.” But, looking at the perspective of one who oftentimes sent out those emails, we know that they work in getting the word out there, and even getting the unexpected couple of people involved in a student organization.
But now everything is contained in one, mass-sent email: conceptually, good. But it does not work like that anymore. Because everything is contained in one email, it is now easier to get rid of what is going on on campus for that day, the rest of the week and beyond. Instead of getting a subject line of “GENERAL BODY MEETING FOR MODEL UN AT 5:00 PM,” you get an innocent-sounding “Today@Canisius for 3/14/18,” which does not draw people in like the others. We understand that it is hard to convey all that information into one subject line, nor are we recommending that that should be implemented. We either recommend that students actually open up those emails sent every school day, or encourage a return back to undergraduate listserv access for student organizations. Something has to give, and the status quo is not cutting it.
Another reason is the rising cost of education. Although oftentimes discussed in the political discourse of the United States, education costs are rising, and, despite announcements of lower tuition charges here, an overwhelming amount of tuition reduction has come with a proportional reduction in financial aid. It’s basically lip service, to use our own institution as an example. This is becoming a problem for many students on campus: How do students bear the burden of having to pay more to study here, let alone live on-campus? The answer for most: find off-campus employment. Because a lot of students have increasingly found it necessary to find employment, this consequently means less time for extracurricular activities. Thus, student organizations come to rely on the same people over the course of time: great for consistency, but bad for stress and other commitments, ranging from classes to employment/internships of their own.
Additionally, a consistent reduction in the amount of students here at Canisius College has reared its ugly effects on student apathy. When student organizations should logistically coordinate, they are not doing so. As students, it should not be our responsibility all the time to decide what matters to us the most. Programs and general body meetings can be non-exclusive, but in many cases, that does not seem to be the case.
All of these work together to create a downward spiral. Running a student organization is like a group project, in many ways: if everyone does a relatively equal amount of work, it goes well. But as soon as more people put more effort relative to others in the day-to-day functions of a student organization, tensions begin to rise. People get mad at one person, or a group of people, for not putting in as much effort as others do. And this can affect the general body: when general body members sense tension amongst the E-Board, it can result in tense vibes and thus affects the general body. General body members are consequently unlikely to tell their friends about this exciting new club in which they take part because E-Board members have beef with each other.
We wholeheartedly believe that there is interest on campus to become involved. But the realities of Canisius College are unfortunately grim, in many aspects. People are overworked. Enrollment is down. Communicating to classmates is difficult at times. All of these have negatively impacted student involvement on campus.
If we want to make Canisius more sympathetic, something has to change. The questions are “what?” and “how?”