Justin Wei / The Silhouette
“We’re loud, but we’re not proud.” Perhaps these words should replace McMaster University’s motto “All things cohere in Christ.” McMaster’s motto does more than fail to capture religious diversity on campus today — it fails to capture what McMaster is really all about: student disengagement.
The student population seems to be dreadfully detached from recent happenings in the McMaster community, detailed in much of the Silhouette’s March 21 issue. While lack of student engagement appears regularly in articles, one struck this cord in particular.
Aissa Boodhoo-Leegsma’s article “Board of Governors candidates question low student representation” showcases student disengagement at its best. Elections for student representatives on the Board of Governors (BoG) garnered little student interest, the article reports. Of course, this issue is in part attributable to the fact that undergrad student representation is itself lacking on McMaster’s BoG. Boodhoo-Leegsma reported that only “2.7% of the Board is allocated to undergraduate student representation. The provincial average for student representation on governing bodies is 7.1%”. The other end of the issue, however, is that many McMaster students remain “apart” from the school community. As Shen says, “but the question most candidates asked was how many students even know what the Board of Governors is?”
Perhaps it’s the fact that most students simply lack interest in University politics, much the same way many young people are disinterested in Canadian politics. In either case, the same story is told: “they’re the ones not doing enough to get us interested”. Again, this may in part be the case, but students have a part to play in engaging themselves. Yes, academia is demanding. Yes, life exists outside of school. But yes, you have a voice, so use it! And many students do use their voice.
Take, for example, the relocation of Wentworth House tenants. As found in the March 21 issue of the Silhouette, “Eviction notice: Wentworth House tenants challenge relocation plans”, Anqi Shen reports that the McMaster Muslim Students Association (MSA), MACycle, CUPE 3906 and Photo Club darkroom, have been appealing to University officials to relocate to a more hospitable environment against the University’s proposed move to Lot O. In fact, Myles Francis, manager of Photo Club darkroom, is said to have been negotiating the matter with the University since last spring. The point is what merits these students attention is their engagement, albeit in troubled circumstances.
Busy as students are, engagement within the University community may not always be a result of the University’s shortcomings. Students have an equal part to play in informing themselves about the happenings in McMaster. If it’s too wearisome to crack open a newspaper (because, who reads those things anymore?), go online! Yes, you can find many publications available online, but you can also use Twitter to get informed. McMaster, and just about all of McMaster’s many departments and clubs, are active daily on Twitter. And if you can’t make the time to read 140 characters then you’ve really no business being in university in the first place.
Not everyone can make promises that they’re the most informed of students, but at least some know enough to have a general understanding of what is happening in their university and that is because they choose to know. While hourly visits to Facebook may seem far more appealing than browsing the news, take comfort in the fact you’re utilizing some part of your brain that requires more than a scroll and a click. Perhaps the larger question here, however, is why should you care what happens at McMaster?
Steering clear of the overplayed “because it affects you” spiel, if you become more informed, you’re more likely to involve yourself. And of course, what’s the point of involving yourself? Obvious perks aside (i.e. resume builder, because one day you will have to enter the “real” world); perhaps in another issue of the Silhouette the common theme won’t be “student disengagement.” Perhaps you’ll begin to take pride in McMaster. Perhaps it’s time that the excuses stop along with the finger pointing. Perhaps it’s time to update that motto to “we’re loud, and we’re proud, and not all of us cohere in Christ.”